Liverpool’s determination not to sell Luis Suarez – certainly not to one of their main rivals – means the striker’s long-running transfer saga seems destined to go on for a while yet.
The Uruguay international may have burned his bridges with many at Anfield by threatening to hand in a transfer request this week and take the club to a Premier League tribunal to make good his escape, but the club will not allow their hand to be forced and maintain he is not for sale.
The clause in his contract which Arsenal thought they had activated with a £40,000,001 bid – their second offer – is not an automatic selling one. With both sides intransigent about their own interpretation of the player’s contract, it seems Suarez’s future may end up being determined by neither party if lawyers are brought in to fight it out.
Suarez has enlisted the help of the Professional Footballers’ Association to seek a way out but chief executive Gordon Taylor admits there may not be a straightforward answer. “It is a delicate situation and we are trying to help,” he said. “He believes the £40 million amount that is mentioned, if that is offered that gives him the right to go.
“Liverpool, from their side, are saying that is a minimum figure from which they will consider negotiation and of course they will want to keep the player, unless they replace the player with someone as good or better, which is not going to be easy in a short period of time.”
Taylor added: “There are different ways it can be interpreted. If it goes to the Premier League it will take time and the window is then closed. We have been asked to try and help to sort the situation out.”
Suarez believes, at the very least, he has a gentleman’s agreement with manager Brendan Rodgers. “Last year I had the opportunity to move to a big European club and I stayed on the understanding that if we failed to qualify for the Champions League the following season I’d be allowed to go,” he said in a recent interview. “It is not just something verbal with the coach but something that is written in the contract.”
Suarez has previous for taking legal action, having done so to Groningen in 2006 when a bid from Ajax was rejected.
The striker went to a tribunal and lost – but was still sold as the Amsterdam side increased their offer for a player who by then had seen fans turn against him.
Rodgers has admitted every player has his price (in Suarez’s case, probably about £50million) but insists that should not be interpreted as the club being willing to sell a striker who scored 30 goals last season.
With interest failing to materialise from elsewhere, however – Suarez’s preferred next club, Real Madrid, appear focused on Tottenham’s Gareth Bale – there is currently no competition to push up the price.
“We’ve obviously had a couple of bids from one club that has been nowhere near the valuation. I repeat – nowhere near the valuation of what he is worth in this market,” Rodgers told liverpoolfc.com.