Arsenal pull out all the stops to sign Luis Suarez
London club offers Liverpool £40,000,001 to activate clause in striker’s contract
Luis Suarez is mobbed by Liverpool fans during a training session at Melbourne Cricket Ground during the club’s pre-seson tour. (Photograph: Michael Dodge/Getty Images)
Arsenal have reinforced their determination to sign Luis Suarez with a club-record bid of £40m plus £1 for the Liverpool striker. The offer was rejected out of hand by Liverpool but they will allow Suarez to open talks over a sensational move to the Emirates Stadium, if he so desires.
Liverpool were angered by Arsenal’s second bid for the 26-year-old when it arrived yesterday and remain adamant it will not trigger the release of their prized asset. The Arsenal chief executive, Ivan Gazidis, was informed by his Anfield counterpart, Ian Ayre, that Liverpool would not consider a sum of £40m for Suarez when he lodged an opening offer of £30m plus £5m in add-ons.
But that has not deterred Arsenal from returning, a fortnight later, with an offer that activates a clause in Suarez’ contract by one pound. Under the terms of a contract signed in August, Liverpool must inform last season’s leading goalscorer of a club’s interest once they receive a bid of more than £40m.
Anfield officials were due to fulfil that obligation to the Uruguay international following Liverpool’s pre-season friendly against Melbourne Victory yesterday. It will then fall to Suarez to decide whether he wishes to speak to Arsenal, having blamed vilification by the British media and the English Football Association as the root of his disillusionment in England.
Liverpool are categorical that the £40m clause is not a fixed sale price and that they remain free to negotiate their own transfer fee for Suarez. They value Suarez as a better player than Fernando Torres when he was sold to Chelsea in 2011 and would demand in excess of the £50m received for the Spain international.
Brendan Rodgers confirmed that position last week when he placed Suarez in the same price-bracket as Uruguay team-mate Edinson Cavani, who recently joined Paris Saint-Germain from Napoli for £55.6m.
“When you consider that Cavani has gone for £55m you know . . . Luis is up there in that bracket of top talent,” the Liverpool manager said. “Obviously it [Arsenal’s first bid] was an offer we didn’t deem worthy of the talent and even if they came back with that kind of amount there’s no guarantee he would be sold even for that because we are trying to build something here.”
Rodgers has repeatedly stated that Suarez is not for sale and it would require “something drastic” to alter Liverpool’s stance on a player they supported throughout the racism controversy with Patrice Evra and again when he received a 10-match ban for biting Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic last season. The former Ajax captain has six games left to serve of the Ivanovic suspension next term.
Nevertheless, Arsenal’s strategic move will apply pressure on Liverpool should Suarez ask to open negotiations with Arsene Wenger and push for Champions League football at the Emirates. Arsenal have evidently been encouraged to believe that £40m-plus is a sale clause and a legal dispute over the wording of Suarez’ contract cannot be discounted.
Wenger had hoped to sign Gonzalo Higuain from Real Madrid but the Argentina international is mulling over a move to Napoli for a fee of €35m.
Napoli are also in negotiations to sign Jose Reina from Liverpool. The Italian club want the Spain goalkeeper on loan, while Liverpool are keen to remove the 30-year-old’s £110,000-a-week contract from their wage bill.