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Suarez signing a statement of intent

Liverpool's owners Fenway Sports Group yesterday signalled their intent to revitalise the club they bought for £300m by making Luis Suarez their first signing. The fee, rising to £22.8m, could make the Uruguayan the most expensive player in the club's history.

Liverpool confirmed yesterday afternoon that a deal had been reached with Ajax, and the 24-year-old is expected to agree personal terms and arrive on Merseyside for a medical within 48 hours.

Should those obstacles be overcome, Suarez is likely to be brought into Liverpool's first-team squad for Wednesday's visit of Stoke, even though he has not played since November after being banned for seven games for biting an opponent.

His wages should not be an issue either, as he is currently earning 'only' £28,000 a week.

The total fee paid for the Uruguayan would eclipse the £20m paid for Fernando Torres, the man he may yet find himself replacing at Anfield.

Though the timing of Suarez's arrival suggests he may be a replacement for the Spaniard, he has been monitored for several months, long before anyone on Merseyside knew of a renewed effort from Chelsea to sign Torres.

Suarez had been identified by manager Kenny Dalglish and director of football strategy Damien Comolli as Liverpool's primary attacking target, but Ajax's hard-line stance -- insisting as recently as Wednesday that their £30m valuation of the player was non-negotiable -- had threatened to derail the deal.

Liverpool had initially offered £12.8m, a sum described by an Ajax spokesman as "disrespectful" but Suarez made it clear that he was desperate for the deal to be completed and spoke of his desire to play in the Premier League.

Signing one of the most sought-after players in Europe represents a considerable coup for Comolli and FSG. The Frenchman was the group's first appointment after their takeover, and has been handed complete control of Liverpool's scouting and recruitment departments. Though he has always insisted that the club's manager retains final say in who Liverpool sign, it is Comolli's task to assess and identify targets.

Pinpointing Suarez, of course, would not have been difficult: he has scored 111 goals in 159 games since his £6.4m transfer from Groningen to Ajax in 2007, and averages a goal every three internationals for Uruguay. The signing is a considerable statement of intent from FSG, who have always insisted that transfer funds were available.

A deal to sign Blackpool midfielder Charlie Adam seems to have fallen apart, however, as Liverpool have failed to match the asking price. A £6m offer was rejected yesterday, with manager Ian Holloway believed to be willing to do business only for £12m.

The club have also abandoned a loan move for Aston Villa's Stephen Warnock after a chain of left-back transfers collapsed. Liverpool had wanted to return Paul Konchesky to Fulham but that was conditional on Mark Hughes finding a buyer for Carlos Salcido, which he has failed to do. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent