An exclusive interview with Barcelona striker Luis Suarez:
What's the plan for this two-week break?
To have a rest and to recover well. These two weeks are going to be spectacular for me. After the injury I had, I rushed things with my knee and long-term that can harm you. I had a lot of pressure physically, just making it for the national team and until now there wasn't a break. The best thing for the national team and Barça was to miss these two friendlies.
Do you still feel pain?
No, no, no. No pain. It's just precaution. You always worry when there's a challenge that it could be worse, but after the break and with the treatment I am having, there won't be any more pain.
A more conservative approach was better than surgery?
I have always tried to avoid surgery because it takes longer to recover. People always speak, but at the end of the day it's the medics who must decide because they know what's best. I was relaxed about it.
With the injury healed, another concern is no goal in 451 minutes...
I am most critical of myself. There have been games when I've helped the team and been happy, despite not scoring. In other games, I have ended them badly because I did everything possible to score and was not able to. It's not about runs, there are moments when you do everything and the ball doesn't want to go in. Sometimes you hit it wrong and it goes on. They're situations strikers are used to and must live with. I know I am obliged to score because it's my job but also that the team's doing well and hasn't needed my goals.
"I don't think there's been any anxiety. Anxious would be to have the ball and try to beat five players"
Your teammates and the supporters have been good…
I have never been worried because I have everyone behind me, including the fans. Goals are important for me but helping the team is, too. But it would be a lie to say I am happy with my form. I know I can give more.
Have you thought about a ritual to change your luck!?
I have tried everything but it's not helped me at all!
Do you feel anxious at moments like this?
I don't think there's been any anxiety. Anxious would be to have the ball and try to beat five players. In that sense, I'm calm. I remember a play against Malaga when Sergi Roberto gave me the ball and before shooting I was laughing because I knew I was going to miss, due to the moment I'm going through. In another moment, I'd have caught it wrong and it would have gone in. I know that when one goes in, a lot more will start to go in.
CHANGE OF MANAGER
Does the lack of goals have anything to do with Ernesto Valverde¡s system changes?
That's the least of it. Obviously, when there's a player like Ney, it is different. "But it's not the manager who asks me to play there [on the left], I go there because I see there's no one there. The manager knows where I can perform, what my position is and where I feel comfortable. If I go the the left, it's because I see space, not because of the system.
"When I'm a coach, if I am, don't ask me to be calm because I am not on the pitch"
Being a striker is more demanding than other positions?
No, because if the goalkeeper makes a mistake, he gets all the blame. A striker has more opportunities to make mistakes. More is demanded because we're playing for the best team in the world, but I am aware of that and know how to live with it. I would worry if there was a moment when I downed tools or my attitude dipped, but in my case that won't happen.
Valverde & Luis Enrique
How have routines changed with Valverde?
Training is different because each coach has their own style of work. I always adapt because at the end of the day coaches look for the best for their players. You can tell that they [Valverde and his assistant José Antonio Pozanco] have played before and know the players and the club well. The manager has surprised me in a good way, due to his relationship with the squad, how he talks and how he lives.
Teammates like Samuel Umtiti have said Valverde's calmer than Luis Enrique…
Luis Enrique had a similar way of playing [to coaching]. When I'm a coach, if I am, don't ask me to be calm because I am not on the pitch. Everyone has their way of being, they have different personalities but they have both helped me. Valverde's more relaxed when he speaks to you because he's a coach with more experience and he knows how to treat the players
Neymar visited a few days ago…
We miss Ney a lot on the pitch, but more off it, because he was special. He's said it. We had a lot of fun. He transmits happiness and joy all of the time. He was important for us. He's playing for another team now but I don't hold it against him, the opposite. I tried to convince him to stay because I think here's the best place for him, but it's a decision he had to take
Is he longing for his time at Barcelona?
It's come out that he regrets leaving. Not at all. Ney is mature enough to know if he regrets leaving and he would say it himself, it doesn't need to be said by other people.
Did he ask for advice from you and Messi?
More than advice, [Messi and I] tried to do what would benefit the team. But we never said 'Don't go because you won't be happy.' We said we didn't want him to go, but that he was free to do what he wanted. Because of the friendship we have, it was painful that he left.
Neymar's replacement, Ousmane Dembele, has hardly played...
I think Ousmane's arrived at the same age as Neymar, even younger, maybe. They're players that will mature and get better. He had bad luck with the injury.
Sometimes you've had a go at Deulofeu on the pitch…
He is a player with experience. He has played in big leagues and what he has to do is listen to advice, not just from forwards, but from the manager. He is doing that and he's learning. He's not the only player I've given a ticking-off to. We all do it. People tell me off, too!
Do you talk about signings in the dressing room?
No. In summer a little, because you're more aware who could come. We're not ignorant to what comes out, of the players that could come and leave. But at this time of year, we don't pay attention because we're playing for a lot.
As a forward, it's strange that Cristiano Ronaldo only has one goal?
It's rare because we're all going through a similar spell, like Antoine [Griezmann]. They're moments, but they're situations which have to be turned around.
In Deceber you renewed until 2021, when you'll be 34... where do you see yourself then?
You always want to be at the top level in football and for me that's Barça. It's difficult to retire at Barça but you never know. My desire and dream is to remain at the top for as long as I can, but without setting any limits.