Giorgio Chiellini ready to swap shirts with Luis Suarez after bite
Juventus defender Giorgio Chiellini says he would like to swap shirts with Barcelona forward Luis Suarez if they come up against each other again.
Suarez bit Chiellini on the shoulder during a group game between Uruguay and Italy at the 2014 World Cup, resulting in a four-month ban from the game. The former Liverpool player missed the start of the 2014-15 La Liga season after signing for Barcelona that summer, and did not return to international football for almost two years.
The pair have since met in Champions League action for their clubs, and Chiellini told El Mundo that he disagreed with the severity of the punishment given to Suarez.
“I have met him since on the pitch and it was a pleasure, as he is a great forward and it always means a challenge,” Chiellini said. “I would like to swap jerseys with him. His punishment was a pity, not being able to enter the stadiums was over the top. It was just to give an example because of the World Cup.”
Chiellini has won the last six Italian league titles with Juventus, with the Turin side clear at the top of Serie A this season. He feels that the domination of clubs like Juve in their domestic leagues means there will eventually be a breakaway competition.
“We are heading towards a European Super League,” he said. “It will take 10, 20, 30 years, but it will come. With respect to the smaller teams, the Juve fans want to see Madrid, [Manchester] United, Barca, PSG… Imagine a Sunday with a Juve-Madrid, a City-Barca and an Atletico-Liverpool? Bufffffff!
“You would have to harmonise it with the local leagues, of course, but it would be the biggest spectacle in the world, bigger than the Super Bowl, because there is no mass phenomenon like football.”
Juve have reached two of the last three Champions League finals, but were beaten by Barca in 2015 and Madrid last year. Chiellini said the La Liga giants are the favourites again this season, with Manchester City and Bayern Munich also in the running.
“We feel convinced we can do it, but you cannot deny that this has been the moment of the Spanish teams in the tournament,” he said. “City and Bayern are going well, the former in a more difficult league where there are always four or five challengers for the title.
“But Real and Barca have something extra. They have both evolved in recent years, but they remain at the peak, and not just for Cristiano [Ronaldo] and [Leo] Messi. [Pep] Guardiola’s Barca, for example, were intense in attack, and reacted immediately when they lost the ball. Now they are different, more solid, but they beat you just the same.”
Dermot Corrigan is a Madrid-based football writer who covers La Liga and the Spain national team for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @dermotmcorrigan
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