Barcelona and the world's topscorer last season, Luis Suárez met with El País for a friendly chat, discussing his goals, Messi, the national team and how it feels to score against Real Madrid. You can read the interview in Spanish at their website.

Do you count your goals?

They told me that the one I scored at the Pizjuán was the 350th of my career. I don’t count them, but if you ask me: “Do you remember that one?” I will tell you that yes, I remember it. Every goal has something special. The ones I like the most are I take a ball that’s bouncing in the area and I shoot it hard. It’s like a discharge.

Was the penalty goal against Celta the funniest or weirdest one that you’ve scored?

In a training I saw how Leo and Ney were practicing the play and they had talked about doing it at some point. I was hanging around, I saw how they were practicing, but it was something between the two of them. And when the game came, I saw that Ney was one Leo’s other side, to his left. In general, I don’t go for the rebounds on penalties, but when Messi went to shoot I started running and the ball was right in front of me. And when the ball is there you have to shoot, I have that in my blood. And I did. Afterwards, Ney was joking around, telling me I was a son of a bitch for stealing his goal. We laugh a lot remembering it now.

Do you laugh a lot in this team?

Yes, a lot. And that’s something you value. And it’s not just something I say. Other teammates, like Piqué for example, have also said it. He’s always maintained that there is no envy here. No one is jealous of anyone. And he’s right.

Because you all know that Messi is the best?

Yes, because of that and because of the fact that we each have our role. I have mine, Ney has his, Andrés has his. We could all be the best player in another team, but here Leo is the best and we know that. Players have come here to be stars and ended up failing. Football is like that, you have to assume and understand your role.

Is Messi understood or it's more of an intuition thing?

He’s understood. Maybe there are times when you see what he’s going to do, but, in general, you discover he does something new in every play, every day. Leo is different in everything. In any circumstance of the game he is a step ahead of any other player.

You guys also understand him off the pitch.

Getting along off the pitch gives you a plus, because maybe if we didn’t it would be harder to make it work on it. For example, I have my family with me and that helps, because if you’re not happy off the pitch you can’t be happy on it either. And a good relationship with the best player in the world, with the guy who makes the difference, helps you improve.

Do you talk about football?

A lot. We talk about football, players, all the leagues… We’re like two normal friends who talk about everything when they meet and of course we talk about football a lot because we love it.

Messi confirmed that he’s going back to the Argentinean national team and his first game will be against Uruguay. Didn’t you ask him to extend his break for at least one game?

No, it’s fine. The important thing is for Leo to return to his team. This is what interests us because it’s what’s good for him. What happened to him after the Copa América final is understandable. In a moment like that you can say a lot of things, it was the third final he lost with Argentina and, knowing Leo, I figured that he could end up saying something like this. But later, when you think about it more calmly, everything changes.

Did you ever think about leaving the national team?

I never got to experience situations like Leo and Mascherano have. But when you lose finals or you get knocked out it hurts a lot, so you consider it.

What hurts more: getting kicked, losing or missing a chance to score?

Losing hurts more than getting kicked. But, above everything else, what you can never forgive yourself for is missing a chance to score. A goal cannot be missed.

And letting down Sofia? Before the World Cup you had promised your wife that you wouldn’t have any more problems on the pitch. How did she forgive you for what happened in Brazil?

It was a very difficult moment. We know that when you do things right everything goes great, but when you do something wrong you’re the worst. What happened there hurt me because of my people, of my wife and my kids. She was upset with me. At first I was telling her that nothing had happened. Accepting reality was difficult. It took me a lot. I suffer, I live for football. And because of that it was very difficult to accept that mistake. I cried a lot.

What was more difficult: being at Barça for four months without playing, the 9 games suspension from the national team or seeing the Copa América Centenario from the bench?

They were all very difficult moments… The games I missed with the national team seemed very long. And the first months at Barça, looking retrospectively, were a time that helped me integrate and learn. The coach would show me videos and tell me what I had to do, details that helped me improve.

So you learned the theory first and the practice came later?

You could say that, but also as the games went on my teammates started getting used to my movement. It isn’t as easy as people think. There’s a lot of work behind it and in the end you get your reward. Nothing happens by accident.

Did playing at Ajax help you understand Barça’s positional game?

Playing for Barça is different. Ajax helped me get used to the European level, to physical football. Then England made me adapt to faster football. But, when you get to Barça, everything is different.

In England you said that the important thing was to be faster than the opponent. Is it possible to play faster than at Barça?

Here it’s not as much about the physical aspect, but you have to move intelligently. The important thing is to get to the ball first and for that you need to be fast. For example, for the goal in the Super Cup at the Pizjuán, when Arda touched the ball I was already moving to where I needed to be and these are the things that you need to do in every moment. You have to think faster than the rest. The demands of this league are enormous.

How do you see this upcoming league?

Complicated. Madrid have shown who they are. Atlético will surely keep fighting, they’re one of the candidates. And there’s Sevilla… Each game is difficult.

Is there anything better than scoring against Madrid?

As a Barça player? No, nothing. But I’ll tell you that there’s nothing that thrills me less than playing against Atlético. They’re so annoying. There’s Godin, who is a nuisance, he’s always there next to me. He annoys me a lot, but I do that to him too. The truth is that we enjoy it because we like it. With Diego I’ve had a lot of scraps on the pitch because that’s how we both are. Outside we’re very friendly, good teammates. But we know that we represent Uruguay and that we have to be cautious with certain things.

Do you still drink a lot of water?

Yes, when I got to Groningen I started drinking a lot of water and I still do. My teammates laugh, I go to the bathroom a lot and on the plane I drive them crazy. The doctor tells me it’s not normal, but it works well for me.

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