Liverpool lawyers fly out to meet with Luis Suarez as Barcelona speculation grows
Liverpool are taking legal advice after facing up to another nightmare scenario with Luis Suarez after their star striker departed the World Cup in disgrace with a four-month ban from all football imposed for biting an opponent.
FIFA's independent disciplinary committee imposed a World Cup record ban on the 27-year-old of nine international matches as well as the four-month-long total ban that will devastate Liverpool's plans for the new season.
It would keep him out for at least 12 club games - nine Premier League matches plus three Champions League games, and potentially a League Cup match too - before a return at the end of October.
Suarez, dealt with as a serial biting offender by the FIFA panel who took his two previous cases into consideration, will return to Uruguay with his World Cup over. An appeal will be lodged but he will remain suspended during that process and is certainly out of the World Cup.
Suarez's ban excludes him from training with Liverpool or any other club and from going to any stadium, but it does not prevent him being transferred to another club.
Liverpool are taking specialist legal advice over what they see as an unprecedented incident before deciding on their next move regarding last season's PFA and FWA player of the year and the Premier League's top scorer with 31 goals.
The player's lawyer Alejandro Balbi said that he will meet with legal representatives from the Merseyside club on Friday.
"Tomorrow we will meet in Barcelona with Liverpool's lawyers," he told Cadena Cope.
Interestingly, Balbi also claimed Pere Guardiola, the agent brother of former Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola, will also be present at the meeting - something which will fuel claims Suarez could be set to move to the Nou Camp this summer.
"Tomorrow we will talk with Pere Guardiola," Balbi added when asked about a potential move for Suarez from Liverpool to Barcelona.
FIFA announced the sanctions at a news conference in Rio de Janeiro, adding that Suarez has also been fined 100,000 Swiss francs (£66,000) for his attack on Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini during Uruguay's 1-0 win on Tuesday which saw them progress at Italy's expense.
They will now face Colombia on Saturday with Uruguay federation (AUF) president Wilmar Valdez confirming an appeal will be lodged.
Suarez and AUF can also appeal beyond that to the Court of Arbitration for Sport with the aim of obtaining an outcome before the start of the new season.
Valdez said: "We are preparing our appeal now, we have three days to do it.
"It's an extremely excessive punishment, there was not enough evidence and I have seen more aggressive incidents recently.
"It's feels like Uruguay has been thrown out of the World Cup. We all know what Suarez means to Uruguay and to football around the world - not having Suarez would be a loss to any team."
It is the third time Suarez has been sanctioned for biting opponents - the two previous offences occurred in club football.
He was banned for 10 matches in 2013 for biting Chelsea's Branislav Ivanovic and in 2010 he was given a seven-game ban while playing for Ajax for biting PSV Eindhoven's Otman Bakkal.
He also served an eight-match ban for racially abusing Manchester United's Patrice Evra.
The Suarez tale took a bizarre twist on Thursday night when hundreds of fans gathered at Montevideo airport waiting for Suarez to arrive.
But they had a wasted journey as the Liverpool striker spent the night in Natal, Brazil, instead.
"Luis Suarez remains in the city of Natal and there is still no timetable planned for his flight," the AUF tweeted in the early hours of Friday morning.
"Furthermore, Luis wants to thank the Uruguayan population for its support in the last few hours."