LIVERPOOL have stressed Luis Suarez is not for sale and that they expect him to honour his contract with the club.
The Reds appear to face a major battle to keep hold of Suarez, with quotes from the striker emerging yesterday suggesting he is no longer “comfortable” at Anfield and is intent on leaving the Merseyside outfit.
But a spokesperson for Liverpool said: “Luis Suarez is not for sale – neither Luis or his representatives have communicated these feelings directly to LFC.
“The club remain supportive of Luis and expect him to honour his contract. We will not be making any further comment at this stage.”
Suarez joined Liverpool in January 2011 from Ajax and his contract runs until the summer of 2016.
Doubt over his future with the Reds has increased over the past few days after he was quoted in his native Uruguay as saying “it would be difficult to say ‘no’ to Real Madrid” and “it’s a good moment for a change of environment”.
The 26-year-old has also now been quoted as referring to his “reason for leaving” – “not for money”, but because of what he perceives as the “bullying” English media.
Speaking at a Uruguay national team press conference late on Thursday night, Suarez said: “My reason for leaving is not the money – if it were the money, I would have left already.
“My main reason is my family and my image – that is my priority now.
“It is a difficult moment for me. The coach [Brendan Rodgers] and my colleagues know that they [the English media] didn’t treat me well here. I don’t feel comfortable here anymore. They know it, so I think it is understandable that I leave.”
Suarez has frequently been in the headlines over the course of his Liverpool career to date, and for a variety of reasons.
He has scored more than 50 goals for the Reds in all competitions, and in 2012-13 – in which he netted 30 times – he made the shortlist for the PFA Player of the Year award, eventually won by Tottenham’s Gareth Bale.
He is also currently serving a ten-game ban for biting Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic after previously serving an eight-match suspension for racially abusing Manchester United’s Patrice Evra, and has also faced repeated accusations of diving.
Regarding the English media, Suarez added: “Being persecuted by the paparazzi all the time, I couldn’t go to my garden or the supermarket – I couldn’t do anything.
“I know it is normal being followed by the press, but it was too much. All the silly things they said about me, all the pictures, all the taunts. That happened every day and nobody supported me. They talk about me being named as the best player in England, but I knew it wasn’t going to happen because of the way they treated me.
“The straw that broke the camel’s back was my mistake [the biting incident]. I accept it – my fault. But they went too far.”
Suarez confirmed there had been no “offer” for him yet, and said he was unsure about when a move might materialise, if at all.
He said: “I don’t have any offer yet. I don’t know when I will leave or even if I will finally leave, or I will stay.
“The club knows what I think and what I want. I don’t know what will happen, but I have a contract.
“If I stay, I will do my best here, but I don’t think that will happen because of all the bullying from the press against me. The team is very aware of everything.”
Match of the Day presenter and former England striker Gary Lineker wrote on his Twitter account yesterday: “Luis Suarez wants to leave Liverpool.
“Nice reward for a club that rightly or wrongly stuck steadfastly behind him.
“He’ll conveniently blame the media, I imagine. Nothing like having an excuse. Great player too. Feel for LFC and their fans.”