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Barcelona buy W Cup biter Suarez

SUAREZ-ENGLANDBARCELONA, July 11- Barcelona announced Friday they had struck a deal to sign Uruguayan striker Luis Suarez from Liverpool, sealing the transfer despite the uproar over him biting a World Cup rival.

Despite the furore that saw him sent home from the World Cup, Barcelona pushed ahead to sign the 27-year-old goalscorer reportedly on condition he apologise for biting Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini.

“FC Barcelona and Liverpool FC have reached an agreement for the transfer of Luis Suarez,” the Spanish club said in a statement on Friday.

The two clubs gave no details of the fee.

The player said a sad farewell to fans of the English club, whom he helped fire to second place in the Premier League last season, sending them into the Champions League.

“It is with a heavy heart that I leave Liverpool for a new life and new challenges in Spain,” he said in a statement published by Liverpool.

“This club did all they could to get me to stay, but playing and living in Spain, where my wife’s family live, is a lifelong dream and ambition. I believe now the timing is right.”

The Spanish side said Suarez “will be travelling to Barcelona next week for a medical, to sign his five-year contract and to be officially presented to the media and fans as an FC Barcelona player.”

– Prolific scorer –

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Barca’s new coach Luis Enrique is overhauling the squad after a disappointing season in which they narrowly failed to defend their Spanish league title.

Barcelona were seduced by the goalscoring record of Suarez, who was the top scorer in England’s Premier League last season with 31 goals.

“Luis Suarez is one of the most productive strikers in European football,” the club said.

“The fifteenth Uruguayan to play for FC Barcelona is not just a prolific scorer, he also has a strong competitive spirit and a powerful figure, and he’s coming to Barca in search of even more.”

Suarez bit Chiellini on June 24 in a 1-0 win over Italy which took Uruguay into the World Cup last 16 before they were knocked out by Colombia.

He was handed a four-month ban from all football activities, suspended from nine international matches and fined 100,000 Swiss francs ($112,000).

It was the third time in his career he had been found guilty of biting an opponent.

He apologised for the bite in a Twitter message on June 30.

FIFA on Thursday dismissed appeals by Uruguay and Suarez over the ban but said he could still appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

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If FIFA’s ban is upheld, Suarez will not play football again until late October, well after the Spanish league restarts.

Barcelona on Thursday completed the sale of Chile’s World Cup star Alexis Sanchez to Arsenal.

Suarez’s signing furnishes the Catalan club with one of the most formidable strike forces in the world as he joins two other superstar forwards — Argentina’s Lionel Messi and Brazil’s Neymar.

Barcelona have said goodbye to stalwarts such as Carles Puyol, goalkeeper Victor Valdes and midfielder Cesc Fabregas who has gone to Chelsea, and have made a series of new signings.

These include two new goalkeepers, Claudio Bravo and Marc-Andre Ter Stegen, and Croatian midfielder Ivan Rakitic.

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