Controversy marks Luis Suarez as closely as defenders do. Even while not playing, the new Barcelona striker’s name continues to spark controversy. The latest is about his transfer fee, which was widely reported and believed to be 75m pounds. But Barcelona poured cold water on that yesterday when, during Suarez’s unveiling at Camp Nou, declared that they paid Liverpool 10million pounds less than what has been widely reported. ‘Suarez’s clause was £75m and in the end we paid £65m thanks to the skill of those negotiating,’ disclosed Barcelona’s Executive Vice-President, Jordi Mestre.
His new release clause has been set at a whopping £160m, and the 27-year-old admitted he has always had the Catalan giants in his heart.
‘For years I’ve been dreaming of playing for Barca,’ Suarez confessed. ‘Every little boy knows, this is something that they want, and my family was here as well.
‘To come here and watch Barca play and that one day I would be able to play here, I didn’t think it was going to happen.
Suarez is unavailable to play in competitive matches until late October after biting Giorgio Chiellini at the World Cup, but made his unofficial debut in a friendly against Club Leon on Monday.
Nigeria, holders of the African Cup of Nations, start the first phase of their bid to defend the title by calling up 23 players, including World Cup star and goalkeeper, Vincent Enyeama, for next month’s 2015 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers against the Congo and South Africa.
The list of invited players released by the Nigeria Football Federation on Tuesday featured defenders Kenneth Omeruo and Efe Ambrose, midfielders Ogenyi Onazi and John Mike Obi, as well as strikers Ahmed Musa and Emmanuel Emenike. Elderson Echiejile, the France-based defender who was ruled out of the World Cup by injury; Nosa Igiebor, dropped from the World Cup squad; and Chinedu Obasi, who was cold-shouldered by national team selectors, are all back in the fray for the two matches.
Onazi, the midfield enforcer, whose participation in the World Cup ended with an injury against France, is fully recovered. Michael Babatunde, forced out by a hand injury in Nigeria’s loss to Argentina, is not back yet.
Also invited is a clutch of players from the domestic league. They included Chigozie Agbim, Azubuike Egwuekwe, Kunle Odunlami and Gbolahan Salami, who were part of the squad that finished third at the African Nations Championship earlier in the year, have been presented with the opportunity to make their case in the senior national team. Also invited are Enugu Rangers’ marksman Christian Osaguona as the lot from the domestic League. Nigeria play Congo in Calabar on September 6, before taking on South Africa four days later.
FULL LIST Goalkeepers: Vincent Enyeama (Lille OSC, France); Austin Ejide (Hapoel Be’er Sheva, Israel); Chigozie Agbim (Gombe United, Nigeria) Defenders: Elderson Echiejile (Monaco FC, France); Juwon Oshaniwa (Ashdod FC, Israel); Efe Ambrose (Celtic FC, Scotland); Godfrey Oboabona (Rizespor FC, Turkey); Azubuike Egwuekwe (Warri Wolves, Nigeria); Kenneth Omeruo (Middlesbrough FC, England); Kunle Odunlami (Sunshine Stars, Nigeria) Midfielders: John Mikel Obi (Chelsea FC, England); Ogenyi Onazi (SS Lazio, Italy); Ramon Azeez (Almeria FC, Spain); Joel Obi (Inter Milan, Italy); Nosa Igiebor (Real Betis, Spain); Omatsone Aluko (Hull City, England) Forwards: Ahmed Musa (CSKA Moscow, Russia); Emmanuel Emenike (Fenerbahce FC, Turkey); Chinedu Obasi (Schalke 04, Germany); Uche Nwofor (Heerenveen FC, Netherlands); Nnamdi Oduamadi (AS Varese 1910, Italy); Gbolahan Salami (Warri Wolves); Christian Osaguona (Enugu Rangers) –