Reds tell Suarez to put request in writing
Liverpool striker Luis Suarez must hand in a formal transfer request before he will be allowed to leave Anfield for Real Madrid.
The Merseyside club moved to reiterate a firm not-for-sale stance following further remarks from the striker about his desire to exit England.
Despite the robust nature of the club's insistence, there is a growing acceptance the 26-year-old's remarks are the opening salvo in efforts to engineer his transfer to La Liga.
Few at Anfield now believe Suarez will be a Liverpool player at the start of next season and if he asks to leave – and the club's asking price is met – he will be sold.
Liverpool's position in private is Suarez must express in writing his determination to leave the club – and an activation clause valued around £40m must also be triggered – before they will begin negotiations with any suitor.
It is still conceivable Liverpool could hold out for more than that activation clause, particularly if rival bidders start an auction for the South American and outbid Real Madrid.
Until such time, Liverpool are awaiting further clarification from the player and his representatives as to his immediate intentions. They've noted the interviews he has given in the last 48 hours with little surprise.
There are suspicions as to why they've been expressed now and whether deals have already been arranged between the player and another club, but – muddying the waters somewhat – efforts have also been made to play down their significance by Suarez's advisers.
Per Guardiola, Suarez 's agent, contacted Liverpool on Thursday to state no decision had been taken on the South American's future and he was still considering his position.
Although Liverpool have not been told directly Suarez wants to leave, just as pertinently, they have had no assurance he want to stay, either.
From remaining quiet on the issue, prepared to give their player the benefit of the doubt earlier in the week, Liverpool decided to issue a statement yesterday clarifying the club's stance in direct response to Suarez 's statements.
"Luis Suarez is not for sale," read a club statement. "Neither Luis nor his representatives have communicated these feelings directly to Liverpool.
"The club remains supportive of Luis and expect him to honour his contract. The club will not be making any further comment at this stage."
This response followed the most recent Suarez interview, given to Uruguayan media on Thursday, in which he made numerous strange claims about being harassed by English journalists.
Suarez said the criticism of him for biting Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic had "gone too far."
He added: "My reason for leaving is my family and my image. I don't feel comfortable here any more.
"It is a difficult moment for me, my coach and my colleagues know that the British press didn't treat me well.
"Firstly, being persecuted by the paparazzi all the time. I couldn't go to my garden or the supermarket. I couldn't do anything.
"I know it is normal to be followed by the press, but it was too much. All the silly things they said, all the pictures, all the taunts. That happened every day and nobody in the press supported me.
"They talk about me being named the best player in England, but I knew that wasn't going to happen because of the way they treated me.
"The straw that broke the camel's back was my mistake with Ivanovic. I accept it was my fault, but they went too far."
Suarez 's complaints about paparazzi have caused particular bemusement. The striker lives in the leafy suburb of Woolton Village in Liverpool, where numerous footballers reside in relative serenity and seclusion.
Many Liverpool players have spoken about their surprise at the ease they can walk around, never bothered by over-attentive onlookers.
The image of journalists or photographers camped outside Suarez's garden is patently absurd and it all amounts to a smokescreen.
Liverpool have some sympathy for Suarez 's frustrations at being deprived of Champions League football. In conversation with the club hierarchy at the end of last season – even before his ban – he made it known Liverpool's inability to force their way into the top four made it difficult for him to commit for another year.
The happenings against Chelsea have been a catalyst for Suarez to more openly reconsider his future.
Liverpool will see it is as opportunistic to argue the suspension and media coverage of this has played any significant part in the player's desire to leave.
Suarez was Liverpool's player of the year last season and would have been a serious contender for the Football Writers Association award but for the timing of his indiscretion.
Controversy has shadowed him as much as his spectacular performances. He has remained bitter about his treatment during the Patrice Evra case, resulting in a eight-match ban for using racial language and was also chastised for several diving incidents.
Liverpool, for their part, have defended him throughout his Anfield career, often to the detriment of their own reputation. However, it appears that all of their attempt to protect the player have had minimal influence as he awaits a formal bid from Real president Florentino Perez.
Meanwhile, Monaco have agreed to buy Colombia striker Radamel Falcao from Atletico Madrid for a reported €50m, taking their transfer spending past €120m since being promoted to France's top flight after a two-year absence. (© Daily Telegraph, London)