Liverpool pragmatic on issue of Suarez departure to Barcelona

Chile international Alexis Sanchez as makeweight and €63m likely to soften blow of exit

Luis Suarez: has been keen on a move to top Spanish side for a considerable time. Photograph: Owen Humphreys/PA.

Luis Suarez: has been keen on a move to top Spanish side for a considerable time. Photograph: Owen Humphreys/PA.

Thu, Jul 3, 2014, 01:00

It is tempting, and a much better tale, to suspect Liverpool are falling foul of an elaborate plot designed to prise Luis Suarez from their grasp and into the forgiving embrace of Barcelona.

The fiendish plan is enacted with the bite mark on Giorgio Chiellini’s left shoulder in the conspiracy world when, in reality, Suarez’s latest shameful act has little influence on where he performs next season. Cash, not canines, will determine that.

The process that brought Liverpool and Barcelona to a meeting table in London yesterday commenced not with “Bite 3 – it will never happen again” in Natal last Tuesday but Suarez’s thwarted attempt to leave Anfield 12 months ago. He was serving a ban at the time, for biting, but had to get out of England because of unfair vilification by the English media. All familiar, although the argument was somewhat undermined by a public appeal to be allowed to join Arsenal.

It was one example of Suarez taking people for a ride. The World Cup was another.

Last summer proved a mess for Suarez, his agent Pere Guardiola and ultimately Liverpool. The player’s camp believed they had an agreement to leave for a set price and, in the absence of Champions League football, the Liverpool hierarchy stood firm, principal owner John W Henry laughed off Arsenal’s £40,000,001 bid and Suarez had to train away from the first team having accused manager Brendan Rodgers of breaking promises. No one cared for a repeat and a deal was reached on a lucrative new contract.

The headlines centred on Suarez’s €250,000-a-week salary and commitment to Liverpool until 2018 when his past indiscretions and longing for the exit were forgotten as he put pen to paper in December. Both parties, however, now had clarity regarding a future possible transfer thanks to a release clause. Suarez’s suitor has to meet Liverpool’s valuation to land the striker, and Real Madrid’s willingness to pay €107 million for Gareth Bale last summer was instructive.

Suarez’s ban presented Barcelona with opportunity to secure a player who has long dreamed of a move to Spain.

They have moved swiftly, encouraging the apology and U-turn that Suarez issued for biting Chiellini then commending his strength of character for doing so 24 hours later. But unless Raul Sanllehi, Barcelona’s director of football management, makes an offer acceptable to FSG, they do not walk away with their prize.

Barcelona are said to value the Liverpool striker in the €75 million region but the damaged-goods argument does not work.

Liverpool accepted Barcelona’s request for talks not only to hear their offer for Suarez but to register interest in Alexis Sanchez. Barcelona are willing to offer the winger as a makeweight; €63 million and Sanchez? That would soften the blow at Anfield. Guardian Service

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