Barcelona have moved a step closer to signing Liverpool striker Luis Suárez after “productive” talks between the clubs in London. Liverpool chief executive Ian Ayre met with Barça officials in the English capital on Wednesday as the two clubs tried to thrash out a deal for the controversial Uruguayan.
The Premier League outfit are adamant the 27-year-old will not be allowed to join Barça for less than his release clause, which is reportedly in the region of $137 million. Suárez joined the Reds for £22.7 million from Dutch club Ajax in 2011. Although the player still has four years remaining on his current deal, he is serving a four-month ban for biting Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini in a World Cup clash.
The Catalan giants are said to value Suárez at closer to $103 million. Furthermore, any deal could see Chile forward Sánchez going in the opposite direction. The latter is also a target for Juventus in Italy.
Although Barça are happy to let Sánchez form part of the deal, Liverpool are more keen on getting their valuation for Suárez. There is also a growing sense that Liverpool will get the asking price, especially as Barça officials have gone on the record about how keen they are to sign the player. Club president Josep Maria Bartomeu, said: “He’s a great player, a global star and we want him to play as well as he’s playing up to now. I’m speaking as a football fan.”
Last summer, Premier League rivals made a couple of “cheeky” bids for the Liverpool man but they were rejected. The general feeling is they would reject even the asking price from a Premier League side so as to not sell to a domestic rival. Unless Liverpool meet Barça in a Champions League match, the Uruguayan cannot cause his the former any damage. Furthermore, Liverpool may request a clause in the contract stipulating that Suárez cannot play should the two sides meet.
Fellow European giants such as Bayern Munich and Real Madrid have also been monitoring the situation, but neither club would consider anything near Liverpool’s valuation of Suárez. It had been mooted in the past that Suárez would end up playing for Bayern due to the fact his agent, Pere Guardiola, is the brother of the German club’s manager, Pep.
Liverpool stood by Suárez when he was charged with racially abusing Manchester United’s Patrice Evra and biting Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanović, but this time it is clear the Reds are ready to cash in on a player who is going to miss the early part of the season. Furthermore, his turbulent relationship with the English media has meant the player no longer feels welcome in the Premier League. He is also liable to blow up again at a moment’s notice.
Having let down his club and country, it is time for the Uruguayan to move on to pastures new. Now as Barcelona close in on Suárez and a move to the Camp Nou looking increasingly on the cards, Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers can start thinking about how he is going to spend that extra cash to bolster his strike force ahead of the new season.
Commentary by Robert Shepherd