Liverpool open talks with Barcelona over €100m deal for Luis Suárez
Premier League side to express interest in Alexis Sánchez coming to Anfield
Liverpool have agreed to open talks with Barcelona over the potential transfer of Luis Suárez. Photograph: Peter Byrne/PA
Liverpool have given the first indication that Luis Suárez’s future lies away from Anfield by agreeing to open talks with Barcelona over the transfer of the disgraced striker.
The Spanish club have not been deterred in their pursuit of the Uruguay international by the four-month ban from all football-related activities that he received for biting Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini at the World Cup. It is understood a delegation led by Barcelona’s director of football management, Raul Sanllehi, will meet Liverpool’s chief executive, Ian Ayre, in London on Wednesday for the opening round of negotiations over the 27-year-old.
Liverpool remain adamant Suárez will be sold only should a club meet a release-clause of around €100 million that was included in the €250,000-a-week contract he signed in December. Their valuation has not altered since Suárez bit an opponent for the third time in three years, although Ayre is expected to register Liverpool’s interest in the Barcelona winger Alexis Sánchez being part of any transfer at the meeting with Sanllehi.
Sánchez is valued in the €38 million region by Barcelona but whether the Chile international would be interested in a move to Anfield and what the Catalans are prepared to offer are yet to be determined. There have been no negotiations between the clubs over Suárez before now despite Barcelona’s obvious courtship of the Premier League’s leading goalscorer.
Barcelona are believed to have encouraged Suárez to go public with an apology for biting Chiellini amid concerns over how his prospective transfer would be received. The apology and U-turn from Suárez duly followed via social media on Monday, six days after the incident, and club employees were fulsome in their praise of the striker’s actions on Tuesday.
Speaking at the unveiling of the Croatian midfielder Ivan Rakitic, Barcelona’s sporting director, Andoni Zubizarreta, said: “Suárez has shown he is humble enough to admit an error, which is very important. He has been humble enough to apologise to those he has affected, because it happened in the middle of a festival of football. In this case it’s the best thing a person can do. ”
The former Barcelona and Spain goalkeeper added: “Everyone knows that Luis is an excellent player, everyone knows last season he played in various positions in attack, but everyone also knows that he is a Liverpool player.”
Rakitic also saluted Suárez’s “character and strength” and claimed the forward “has the necessary quality to play for Barça”.
Liverpool, meanwhile, will attempt to upgrade their defence following the €31 million signing of Adam Lallana by finalising interest in the Southampton’s Croatia international centre half Dejan Lovren and the Chelsea left back Ryan Bertrand this week. The Anfield club’s summer spending reached the €50 million mark on Tuesday when the England midfielder Lallana completed his protracted move.