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Sunday 19 November 2017

Barcelona sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta praises Luis Suarez for bite apology

Luis Suarez has issued a statement on Twitter, apologising to Giorgio Chiellini and the
Luis Suarez has issued a statement on Twitter, apologising to Giorgio Chiellini and the "entire football family" for his bite on the Italy defender and promising "there will never again be another incident" like it
Barcelona's sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta has praised Luis Suarez, a player the club are allegedly interested in

Carl Markham

Liverpool have continued their recruitment drive with the signing of midfielder Adam Lallana but it is the future of striker Luis Suarez which will dominate the summer once again.

Lallana completed the formalities on what is believed to be a five-year contract to finalise his £25million move from Southampton and, despite manager Brendan Rodgers' plans going to schedule, issues surrounding his star striker mean the transfer window is going to be far from straightforward.

The Uruguay international is banned for four months for biting Italy's Giorgio Chiellini at the World Cup but that has not stopped speculation linking him with Barcelona.

Suarez's apology for his actions, issued on Monday, immediately prompted claims it was insisted upon by the Catalan club as a prerequisite to any potential transfer bid.

Such a conspiracy theory gathered strength when Barca's sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta praised the Uruguayan for his actions.

"Suarez has shown he is humble enough to admit an error, which is very important," he told reporters.

"Everyone knows that Luis is an excellent player, everyone knows last season he played in various positions in attack, but everyone also knows that he is a Liverpool player.

"Regardless of whether the club signs him or not, his quality is unquestionable.

"He has shown a lot of quality with Uruguay and scored more than 30 goals (last season) with Liverpool, so he has the necessary quality to play for Barca."

Suarez only signed a new contract in December but included in the negotiations was a high-value buy-out clause which removed the ambiguous wording of his previous deal which led to Arsenal offering £40,000,001 in the misguided assumption that would trigger a move.

Liverpool have yet to hear anything from Barcelona about their interest in Suarez but it appears clear if the La Liga side were to meet the buy-out clause - somewhere between £60million and £80million - the Uruguay international would leave Anfield.

While that saga plays out over the next couple of months Rodgers will continue strengthening his squad in preparation for Champions League football.

Lallana admits playing in Europe's elite club competition and Liverpool's scintillating form last season persuaded him to move from Southampton.

"I am grateful Southampton accepted the offer in the end and granted my wish to play at such a fantastic football club with Champions League football and competing for Premier League titles," the 26-year-old told LFCTV GO.

"They are different targets to those of a club like Southampton and I am just going to be pushing to be the best I can.

"I'm so excited for the next chapter of my career, coming to a special club like Liverpool.

"It is a huge step. Liverpool has so much history and after the season they had last season I can't wait to get started and build on that.

"Watching the run-in towards the end of last season it was unbelievable.

"It got the hairs on the back of my neck standing up just watching the style of football.

"Deep down I was thinking to myself, 'One day hopefully I'll be able to play in that team'.

"Five or six years ago I was playing (in) League One but it is reality we've climbed up the leagues and done so well and I'd like to think I'm here on merit and have earned it and I'd like to continue improving playing with world-class players."

Rodgers believes Lallana is a "special commodity" and is delighted to have signed him.

"What is apparent about Adam is that his character is on a par with his talent," said the Reds boss.

"Adam is motivated by being the best he can be and being part of something special.

"We believe he fits right in with what we are trying to do at Liverpool.

"We have seen, over the past two seasons in the Barclays Premier League, he has a tactical awareness to adapt to what is required of him and to put the team above his personal ambitions.

"He has leadership skills and personal qualities that make him a special commodity and I am delighted we have acted decisively to make sure he is wearing a Liverpool shirt next season."

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