Sport Soccer

Friday 23 February 2018

£40,000,001 bid for Suarez

Arsenal lodge cheeky offer - one pound over £40m - to trigger Reds release clause

Mark Ogden in Melbourne

Arsenal stepped up their attempts to sign Luis Suarez by lodging an audacious bid of £40,000,001 for the Liverpool forward – one pound above the £40m trigger clause in his contract.

The bid, made by Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis during a telephone conversation with Liverpool managing director Ian Ayre, was swiftly rejected by the Merseysiders, who remain insistent that Suarez will not be sold this summer.

Having signed a £100,000-a-week four-year deal at Liverpool last summer, Suarez's advisor, Pere Guardiola, negotiated a clause in the 26-year-old's contract which entitled the player to be informed of any future bid in excess of £40m for him.

While the player's camp may yet choose to interpret the clause as enabling Suarez to leave Liverpool should a bid greater than £40m be received, the club remain insistent that the only obligation on their part is to relay information of any offer to Suarez, who is due to play against Melbourne Victory today.

Suarez trained with his team-mates in front of 15,000 spectators at the Melbourne Cricket Ground last night before being informed of Arsenal's latest bid – the Gunners' third offer, having lodged bids of £25m and £35m in the past month.

Although he was given a warm reception by Liverpool's Australia-based fans, who chanted his name during the hour-long session, Suarez appeared subdued before waving to spectators as he left the pitch.

Brendan Rodgers is due to speak formally with Suarez after the friendly in Melbourne today to reiterate the club's stance, and talks between Ayre and Guardiola are also expected at some stage in the next 24 hours.

Rodgers' determination to resist offers for Suarez has been supported by the club's American owners, who have given the Northern Irishman the mandate to hold firm on the 'not for sale' position in relation to the player.

Having noted Paris St-Germain's £55m signing of Napoli forward Edinson Cavani this month, Rodgers insisted that he rated Suarez in the same bracket as his Uruguay team-mate, hinting at a possible figure that would be acceptable for Liverpool.

Whether Arsenal would be prepared to stretch their interest to the point where they would break the British transfer record – Fernando Torres' £50m move from Liverpool to Chelsea – in order to sign Suarez remains to be seen, but it is believed to be highly unlikely.

Napoli, meanwhile, believe that they now have a £31m deal in place for Arsenal's other summer target Gonzalo Higuain, so the north London club would have to act quickly if they want to keep that option alive if a deal for Suarez fell through.

Arsenal had a £23m deal and personal terms agreed in principle with Real Madrid for Higuain prior to the managerial appointment of Carlo Ancelotti but Real then upped their asking price. The risk now is that Arsenal could end up with none of their targets if they focus solely on Suarez.

Rodgers said yesterday that Suarez had shown no signs of discontent since arriving in Australia.

"He was smiling and happy with all his mates when he arrived," Rodgers said. "He was glad to see them all again. He went round them and shook them by the hand. Knowing Luis as I do, he would play football all week, all day and all night if he could, so I'm sure he will want to play some part against Melbourne."

Suarez is due to miss the first six games of the new Premier League season – he is four matches into a 10-game suspension for biting Chelsea's Branislav Ivanovic in April.

The former Ajax striker cited the negative media reaction to his attack on Ivanovic, and his subsequent ban, when publicly admitting his desire to leave Liverpool earlier this summer.

But Rodgers insists the controversy surrounding Suarez had not affected his standing within the club. "He has stayed very much part of the squad, so he feels part of it and we are making sure he is going to be ready," Rodgers said.

Brazilian midfielder Philippe Coutinho has admitted that the squad is attempting to persuade Suarez to stay at the club. And the January signing from Inter Milan claims that Suarez is as crucial to Liverpool's prospects as Neymar, the rising star of world football, is to Brazil.

"I have played with Neymar, he is a special player," Coutinho said. "But for sure, you can make the comparison (with Suarez). They are two big names, two great players that move around the ground and score a lot of goals.

"They have different qualities. Neymar is more about dribbling and organising the attacks, but Suarez scores a lot of goals. You can't compare them directly as players, but Luis is on a par with Neymar in terms of qualities, for sure.

"They are both exceptional players and we all hope that he stays. Everyone here wants to play with top footballers and that is exactly what Luis is. We have Luis and Steven Gerrard – great players. All of the players want him to stay and we have been trying to persuade him to stay."

Liverpool, meanwhile, remain keen to sign Valencia full-back Aly Cissokho as Rodgers attempts to bolster his defensive options. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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