Henry admits Suarez had buyout clause and dismisses football contracts

Liverpool owner John Henry has revealed that striker Luis Suarez did have a £40 million release clause in his contract when he tried to force his way out of the club last summer.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, January 18, 2014: Liverpool's owner John W. Henry and wife Linda Pizzuti before the Premiership match against Aston Villa at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)
John W. Henry and wife Linda Pizzuti. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The Suarez transfer saga was dragged out all summer until eventually, he decided to stay at Liverpool — going on to sign a new deal in December.

It is a reassuring sign of Henry’s business ideology when it comes to sagas like this — putting his foot down and playing hardball.

But Henry, speaking at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, said Suarez’s contract entitled him to be sold, but the club simply refused anyway.

The American also went on to discuss football contracts, and how players are able to seemingly break them if they want to, citing the example of Fernando Torres’ departure to Chelsea in January 2011.

“Luis Suarez is the top scorer in the English Premier League, which is arguably the top soccer league in the world,” Henry is reported to have said via the Guardian.

“He had a buyout clause of £40m. Arsenal, one of our prime rivals, offered £40m plus £1. What we’ve found … is that contracts don’t seem to mean a lot in England – actually, in world football.

“It doesn’t matter how long a player’s contract is, he can decide he’s leaving. We sold a player, Fernando Torres, for £50m, that we did not want to sell, we were forced to.

“Since apparently these contracts don’t seem to hold, we took the position that we’re just not selling.

“It’s been great for Luis, it’s been great for us. We have three gentlemen up front Suárez, [Raheem] Sterling, and [Daniel]Sturridge, [they] are young, I think those three could be together for a long time.”

Henry’s comments seem to add to the confusion that surrounded Suarez’s contract last summer.

At the time, the Players’ Football Association checked the Uruguayan international’s contract, finding no buy-out clause that would allow him to leave.

It seems that the “clause” itself was ambiguous and Henry was resolute in his determination not to sell Suarez, having learnt the lessons of the Torres sale in the opening year of FSG’s ownership of the club.

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