Luis Suarez asked for understanding from Liverpool fans after his club-record £75m move to Barcelona was confirmed yesterday.

The Uruguay international brought the brilliant and bizarre to Anfield during his three-and-a-half-year stay, scoring 82 goals in 133 appearances, but at the same time infuriating supporters with suspensions totalling 18 games for racially abusing Patrice Evra and biting Branislav Ivanovic.

He also tarnished his reputation further by trying to force a move to Arsenal last summer. However, the forward was keen to leave Merseyside on good terms. "I hope you can all understand why I have made this decision," Suarez said in a statement. "The club did all they could to get me to stay. Playing and living in Spain, where my wife's family are, is a lifelong dream and ambition but it is with a heavy heart that I leave Liverpool for a new life and new challenges.

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"My family and I have fallen in love with this club and with the city but most of all I have fallen in love with the incredible fans. You have always supported me and we, as a family, will never forget it; we will always be Liverpool supporters.

"I am very proud I have played my part in helping to return Liverpool to the elite of the Premier League and back into the Champions League."

Suarez, who is serving a four-month ban for biting Italy's Giorgio Chiellini at the World Cup, will have a medical next week before signing a five-year contract.