Football: Enrique insists Suarez has never been fat

Football: Enrique insists Suarez has never been fat

MADRID - Barcelona coach Luis Enrique leaped to the defence of controversial striker Luis Suarez on Friday, insisting the Uruguayan has never been overweight.

The former Liverpool forward will be in line to make his debut for the Catalans next week against bitter rivals Real Madrid, when he finally becomes eligible following his ban for biting Girogio Chiellini at the World Cup.

Suarez was suspended from all football-related activities for four months and given an additional nine-match international ban for sinking his teeth into the Italian centre-back's shoulder during a group game.

Although Suarez has played in friendly matches for both club and country during his ban, scoring twice against Oman on Monday, he has not been allowed to appear in official fixtures.

Suarez, 27, was rumoured to have put on weight during his enforced absence but Enrique gave short shrift to such suggestions.

"It's difficult to evaluate if he's at 70, 80, 90 or 100 per cent but what is sure is he feels much better in training," said Enrique.

"He's been in a certain dynamic for a while and the fact that he has been able to play for his country has allowed him to rediscover the daily life of a footballer.

"We see him training every day, he's a player like any other and what's clear is that he's not fat.

"He never has been, despite everything that's been said. He's been in shape for several months so everything is fine." Barcelona lead La Liga after seven matches and host minnows Eibar on Saturday.

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