Liverpool will seek urgent talks with striker Luis Suarez to assess whether he is in breach of contract following claims from Spain he has agreed personal terms with Real Madrid.
Suarez was still on international duty for Uruguay against Brazil in the semi-final of the Confederations Cup last night, but Liverpool have been alarmed by a report in Spanish newspaper 'Marca' which declared the player had been secretly negotiating with Real.
Liverpool have still not received a transfer request from Suarez, who has three years remaining on his contract, or a bid, and remain adamant he is not for sale.
However, they have been forced to take the suggestion he has been talking to Real Madrid officials seriously as 'Marca' has a close relationship with the Spanish club.
Often in cases like these, the player's agents will have discussed wages with an interested club and an agreement is reached in principle before an offer is made to the club.
Either way, Liverpool have every right to be irritated by Suarez's behaviour.
Despite their staunch support for him in the face of several unsavoury incidents, Suarez has used his involvement in the Confederations Cup to agitate for a move in the media, although neither he nor his representatives have communicated that directly to Liverpool.
If, as seems likely, Suarez does intend to quit Anfield this summer, Liverpool will not be bullied into parting with him and will demand their asking price – likely to be around £40m – is met before they consider letting their star player leave.
New Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti made no reference to Suarez following him to the Bernabeu as he was unveiled to the media as Jose Mourinho's replacement yesterday, although the make-up of his coaching staff may have consequences for Gareth Bale and Tottenham Hotspur.
Ancelotti announced that Real Madrid legend Zinedine Zidane would be his assistant.
The former France international has made a series of public declarations about how much he admires Spus ace Bale and his appointment could wellincrease the chances of Madrid trying to push through the signing of the Welsh midfielder this summer.
"He has experience and he will be a very good assistant," explained Ancelotti, when asked about Zidane's appointment.
"He will be beside me on the bench, the only problem is he won't be able to play."
Ancelotti, who has brought Clement with him from Paris Saint-Germain, has been given a three-year contract at "the most prestigious club in the world" and is tasked with healing the rifts in the camp that opened under his predecessor Mourinho.
"I'm a coach and so I want to have a good relationship with my players, but I don't think Madrid needs a peacemaker," Ancelotti said. "He (Mourinho) did a certain job here; I will do my work here. He has certain characteristics; I have mine.
"But I have total respect for him.
"I don't know what went on here and nor will I try to find out.
There is the start of a new era for me and the players. It's a new relationship and I think it will be a good one." (© Daily Telegraph, London)