Luis Suarez believes his strong relationship with Lionel Messi was a factor behind Barcelona’s decision to sell him to Atletico Madrid this summer.

Atletico were able to sign Suarez for just €6 million (£5.5m) after Barcelona made it clear to the Uruguayan striker that he had no future at Camp Nou.

During his six years at the club, Suarez helped Barcelona win four league titles as well as the Champions League in his first season at the club.

Suarez also formed a strong bond with Messi both on and off the pitch and the 33-year-old feels his friendship with Barcelona’s talisman ultimately led to his exit.

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‘I think they wanted to remove me from Messi’s side,’ Suarez told ESPN.

‘Maybe it annoyed them that I had a good relationship with Leo. Perhaps they didn’t want him to be with me so much.

‘I can’t find any reason to think that would damage the team, though.

‘We looked for each other constantly on the pitch, but for the good of the team. Maybe they wanted him to play with more teammates.

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‘That could have something to do with it. I can’t find any other reason to want to separate us because we got on well on the pitch.’

Suarez also feels that Barcelona should have allowed Messi to leave the club after he pushed for a move away at the end of last season.

‘They should have respected his decision to leave,’ said Suarez.

‘Maybe there’s the possibility that he plays for another club, but if he feels comfortable and happy and a new board come in, he will want to stay at the club.

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‘As a friend, I will be happy if things go well for him there, but also if he has to go to another club.’

Suarez also slammed Barcelona’s board for how they handled his departure. ‘It really hurt me and my family the way they did it,’ said the striker.

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