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Iniesta hails Suarez quality

BarceIona midfielder Andres Iniesta has hailed Luis Suarez as 'one of the best strikers in the world' and hopes his ban is reduced.

Last Updated: 25/07/14 at 14:00 Post Comment

Andres Iniesta (c): Pleased Xavi is staying at Barcelona

Andres Iniesta (c): Pleased Xavi is staying at Barcelona

Suarez, a £75million signing from Liverpool, was handed a four-month ban by FIFA for biting Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini during a World Cup match, which prevents him from making his debut for Barcelona until October 26 when the Catalans play arch rivals Real Madrid at the Bernabeu.

The 27-year-old striker saw an appeal to FIFA rejected and has gone to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in a final bid to see his ban, which his lawyer Alejandro Balbi has branded as "blatantly draconian, totalitarian and fascist", reduced.

CAS has accepted Suarez's appeal and is in the process of studying it, with a decision expected in mid-August.

Speaking at a press conference, Iniesta was careful about commenting on the fairness of the ban, but said he wished Suarez could play for Barcelona as soon as possible.

"It's a thorny issue because you don't know whether speaking about it will go against or favour him so I'm going to decline to comment on it," said Iniesta.

"Suarez is a tremendous signing for us because of his quality, but the other thing (the ban) is something for the club, the courts and FIFA to deal with. We hope that can be resolved and that the ban is reduced as much as possible."

Speaking purely about the Uruguayan's qualities on the pitch, Iniesta added: "Right now he's one of the best strikers in the world and he will bring to us that ambition he has to score goals, his willingness to work hard, that mobility that characterises him. It's fundamental for a midfielder to have a player with those characteristics in the team."

Iniesta also said that learning that long-running Barca team-mate Xavi Hernandez is set to stay at the club for another season was "one of the best pieces of news of the summer".

"He's another one of us and we are delighted about that, because he's spent all his life here and means so much to the club. It would have been strange if he had left."

And the midfielder insisted he was not concerned about Lionel Messi's form, despite the Argentine failing to meet expectations at the World Cup, even though he was named player of the tournament.

"I've never doubted Leo, because of everything he represents and the way he plays, but it's difficult to maintain the level we have come to expect from him for so many seasons," he said.

"He's vital for us and I hope that this year he will return to his usual best."

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