Throughout its almost 125-year history, FC Barcelona has made many mistakes, but in the opinion of all the historians who have written an abundant bibliography on the blaugrana entity, none of the magnitude of the sale of Luis Suárez to Inter Milan.
That record sale in its time was based on lies, mismanagement, poor planning and managerial chaos. All this in a club in an economic crisis that threatened its continuity. But the transfer did not fix one thing or the other. Sportingly, Barcelona fell apart and it took 14 years to win the League again (until the arrival of Cruyff) and it did not solve the economic crisis either.
The first of the lies and perhaps the most serious that was said to justify the transfer of Suárez was that coexistence between the Galician and Kubala was impossible. The lie was based on a press campaign spread by the board of directors on duty that divided the fans between kubalistas and suaristas.
Despite the fact that the lie was not sustained anywhere, the campaign caught on and the debates between supporters of Kubala, a 33-year-old player, and those of Suárez, 25, were very hot. And that then there was no Twitter.
For a start, That thing about them being incompatible was hard to understand because they never played in the same position, but it is that as if that were not enough, they were great friends. If you want other information, Suárez arrived at Barça on the recommendation of Kubala, who had seen him play for Deportivo and was amazed. He immediately insisted on the Blaugrana technical secretary, Pepe Samitier, to sign Luisito.
Samitier, a character that makes for a novel, began negotiations with Deportivo in 1954. But to distract attention from both Deportivo and Real Madrid, he always assured that his interest was in signing the Uruguayan Dagoberto Coll. Depor asked half a million for Moll, a significant figure and Sami demanded that Luis Suárez also arrive for that price. In Depor they did not see much of a future for the boy who had made Kubala fall in love. Others who also showed off.
Suárez arrived at Barça at the age of 19 and spent seven seasons. And it was not easy at first. His first coaches at the Catalan club thought like those of Depor and saw him as too fragile for the rough football that his teams practiced.
Neither with Sandro Puppo, nor with Franz Platko nor with Domingo Balmanya could Suárez shine, who saw how the sky opened up for him with the arrival of Helenio Herrera on the bench of Les Corts.
Barcelona, with an effective Kubala, but already older and punished by injuries, played to the rhythm of Suárezwhom Alfredo Di Stéfano referred to as “the architect”. Word of Don Alfredo.
But then came the great institutional, sporting and economic crisis of an indebted Barcelona. The personality of Helenio Herrera collided with the board of directors of Miró Sans and in 1960 the ‘Wizard’ was fired. The coaches who spent months in his position (Enric Rabassa, Ljubisa Brocic and Enrique Orizaola) did not succeed despite the fact that the latter managed to lead the team to the final of the European Cup. Another tragedy to add to that time as will be seen.
Economically, the club was bankrupt and it was urgent to sell the Les Corts land within two months and socially, the scandal was huge when president Miró Sans dismissed Samitier as technical secretary and thought of the Spanish coach, Pedro Escartín in his position.
Escartín’s sympathies for Real Madrid and his anti-Catalan statements in the past put the fans on a war footing. Samitier was a myth and as if that were not enough, it was learned that he demanded to be paid seven times more than Sami.
This combination of circumstances (the threat of bankruptcy, the dismissal of HH, the poor progress in the League, the dismissal of Samitier and the contacts with Escartín) caused such chaos that Miró Sans resigned on February 28, 1961 and left the club in hands of a manager chaired by Julià de Capmany, who called elections and who was the one who sold Suárez.
The misrule of the club was such that It was the president of the manager who ended up accepting Inter’s offer, with the consent of the two candidates for the presidency: Llaudet (later president) and Fuset.
Drowned by debts and the need to build a new stadium, Barcelona thought badly that Inter’s offer of 25 million pesetas for Suárez was the solution to their problems.
Helenio Herrera was already at Inter, who was the one who finished convincing Suárez, who after seven seasons at Barça was already more culé than those who sold him, but they pushed him to leave due to financial problems (I don’t know if the story sounds familiar to you) They invented the aforementioned controversy with Kubala to justify the unjustifiable and the transfer was it closed five days before playing the final of the European Cup in Bern against Benfica. The best way to face a final, come on.
Barça, in a match full of misfortune (own goal, two posts…) fell 3-2 and even so, Suárez, who had just won the Ballon d’Or at the age of 25, was Barça’s best player in the final.
Of the 25 million collected by Luisito, the recently elected president Llaudet spent 20 on fifteen signings and none was good. Barça fell into the biggest sports crisis in its history and the debt to pay for the Camp Nou skyrocketed.
With Herrera’s Inter, Suárez became an absolute myth, but never stopped being culé. In 2015, on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the Barça museum, Luisito Suárez donated his Ballon d’Or.