Liverpool will demand a fee of more than €58m (£50m) for Luis Suarez from Arsenal after manager Brendan Rodgers dismissed their £40m bid as "nowhere near" the player's value.
Rodgers, who insisted there is no £40m buy-out clause in Suarez's contract, warned Arsenal they must raise their offer for the Uruguayan significantly – and quickly – if they want to sign him.
Suarez and Arsenal are confident the latest offer – worth £40m and one pound – triggers his sale, according to an agreement he has with Liverpool. Despite having previously stated a desire to leave the Premier League and join Real Madrid, Suarez is keen to hold talks with the London club.
The Liverpool manager, increasingly exasperated by the transfer saga, conceded his forward "may want to leave," but warned him to "keep his professionalism."
Rodgers' blunt comments risked escalating tensions between Arsenal and Liverpool still further, after an extraordinary tweet from American-based Liverpool owner John W Henry, which appeared to imply Arsenal executives may have been taking illegal drugs. "What do you think they are smoking over there at Emirates?" he wrote in a comment which was posted at around 2.0am Boston-time.
Suarez, who will travel to Bangkok with the Liverpool squad today for the final leg of their tour of the Far East and Australia, returned to action yesterday for the first time since admitting his desire to leave, by making an 18-minute substitute appearance in the 2-0 win against Melbourne Victory at the MCG.
Arsenal believe their last bid will ultimately be accepted, but Rodgers countered: "If Arsenal want the player then they have to produce the value for the player. There was an offer a few weeks ago of £35m and two weeks later it is now £40m and £1. I don't think it is anywhere near the value of what he is worth.
"It is two-fold really. A player may want to go, but then somebody has to pay the value or worth of that player.
"It is not something we want to run on too long and that period (cut-off point) will come soon, I'm sure," said Rodgers.
Having been led to believe that the clause in Suarez's £100,000-a-week contract ensured he could leave following a bid in excess of £40m, Arsenal now believe the ball is firmly in the player's court should he wish to force a move. Suarez's advisors are thought to have advised Arsenal this was the case, and are now thought to be dismayed by Liverpool's stance.
But Rodgers insisted the reality of the clause was that it merely entitled Suarez to be told of any bid above £40m.
"Absolutely," Rodgers said. "There is nothing more than that." There is the possibility that Suarez will attempt to accelerate a move to the Emirates Stadium by formally submitting a transfer request while Liverpool are in Thailand over the coming days.
Arsenal are confident Suarez is keen to move to the club, but Rodgers is equally certain he will focus fully on his commitment to Liverpool unless the club's position on his future changes.
"For me, it is work as normal," Rodgers said. "There is no change for me or for him. He is a paid player at Liverpool Football Club, so he just needs to get on with getting himself fit. That's how it is. Until somebody tells me something different, that is what all my concentration will be on.
"I am not worried about him (being distracted), but there will be no games played by Liverpool. He is part of the group and he knows the standard you have to meet at this club, on and off the field.
"He was ok (when told of the rejected bid) and he said he was ok to go onto the pitch against Melbourne. His concentration was fine. It may be a distraction, but players are paid enough money now to produce for their clubs and he just has to keep his professionalism, which he has done.
"He is very much a Liverpool player and in the coming weeks we need to get him up to speed to ensure he's fit and raring to go for the beginning of the season."
While Arsenal now consider their next move, and whether to increase their bid to the point that will prompt Liverpool to sell – Rodgers rates Suarez in the same bracket as Paris Saint-Germain's £55m buy Edinson Cavani – Real Madrid could enter the race.
Having missed out on Cavani and with the club no closer to signing Gareth Bale, the imminent sale of Gonzalo Higuain to Napoli may force Real to focus on Suarez, who has said several times Real are his favoured option, without a bid being forthcoming. (© Daily Telegraph, London)