Barcelona president coy on Suarez Liverpool talks

Luis Suarez: Barcelona-bound? Picture: PA
Luis Suarez: Barcelona-bound? Picture: PA
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BARCELONA president Josep Maria Bartomeu has refused to confirm that the Catalan club are in talks with Liverpool to sign Luis Suarez, but hinted that the controversial striker was on the club’s agenda.

Reports emerged on Tuesday evening that Barca director Raul Sanllehi was due to meet Liverpool chief executive Ian Ayre in London on Wednesday to begin negotiations for Suarez, who on Monday issued an apology for biting Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini during a World Cup match.

Bartomeu refused to speak directly about his team’s interest in Suarez, but followed sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta’s lead in commending Suarez for his apology to Chiellini - an apology suspected to have been encouraged by Barca.

“I announced months ago that the team would undergo a deep renovation but we cannot reveal details because we don’t want to give clues away to any of our rivals,” Bartomeu told a press conference.

“Our representatives are constantly travelling to other countries because of potential signing.

“Suarez is a Liverpool player so I can’t talk about him, he belongs to another team, a rival team. But we are all football men, and saying sorry is honourable, it helps the competition.

“He did something that wasn’t right, so it’s the responsibility of everyone in football, be it Liverpool or anywhere else, to remember that he has said sorry. Admitting you have done something wrong is very important.”

Suarez has been banned by FIFA from all football related activities for four months, meaning that he would not make his debut for Barcelona until the end of October, should Liverpool agree to sell.

“Luis has apologised and that is honourable, he’s taken a step towards rehabilitating, the football world should support him and help him,” added Bartomeu.

“As a football fan I hope he can turn a corner.”

Bartomeu also hinted that Xavi Hernandez is set to leave the club after 16 years of service.

Although it has been reported that the midfielder’s planned move to Qatari club Al Arabi has broken down, the president was not optimistic about the 34-year-old’s chances of staying with Barcelona next season.

He said: “Xavi has earned the right to decide his own future. Xavi is Xavi Hernandez, he’s one of those players that when you hear his name you say, ‘Jesus Christ’. We will discuss his future when he returns from holiday, although I have the sensation that he will not stay.”