Liverpool will hold talks with Barcelona officials in London on Wednesday over the transfer of Luis Suarez, according to reports in all national broadsheet newspapers and The Liverpool Echo.
The news is reported very similarly by The Telegraph, The Times, The Guardian and The Echo; that Ian Ayre will travel to London to meet Barcelona director of football management Raul Sanllehi for an opening negotiation.
“Liverpool remain adamant Suarez will be sold only should a club meet a release-clause of around £80m that was included in the £200,000-a-week contract he signed in December”, write The Guardian.
“Ayre will also take the opportunity to step up Liverpool’s pursuit of Barca attacker Alexis Sanchez,” writes James Pearce in The Echo. “Brendan Rodgers is a big admirer of the Chile international, who is valued at around £30million.”
All the reports explain that Ayre and Liverpool will make it clear to Barcelona that they will not allow Suarez to leave on the cheap. The Catalans must pay the asking price – believed to be close to £80 million, especially given Real Madrid spent £85m on Gareth Bale last summer.
Liverpool are keen to ensure Sanchez, the impressive Chile forward who is comfortable playing on the right of a three-man attack, is part of the deal as a replacement for Suarez.
Barcelona’s public courting of Suarez continued on Tuesday when their sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta praised the Uruguayan for his apology following the bite on Giorgio Chiellni.
“Suarez has shown he is humble enough to admit an error, which is very important,” Zubizarreta said as the club unveiled Ivan Rakitic at Camp Nou.
“He has been humble enough to apologise to those he has affected, because it happened in the middle of a festival of football. In this case it’s the best thing a person can do.
“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.”
Meanwhile, former Liverpool director of football Damien Comolli – the man who signed Suarez at Anfield in January 2011 – explained he and former boss Kenny Dalglish always feared Suarez being lured away by one of Spain’s big two clubs.
“Speaking to Luis before, and during, the World Cup, he’s always said he is very happy at Liverpool,” said the Frenchman to talkSPORT on Tuesday.
“But, during our time together at Anfield, he told me that his dream is to play in Spain at one point in his career, especially at Barcelona or Real Madrid.
“His wife’s family live in Spain, he’s in Barcelona every time he gets a couple of days off and has a house there.
“I’ve always thought in my mind, and I told Kenny Dalglish at the time, that, if either of the big Spanish two came in and tried to get him, Liverpool would have a hard time to try and keep him.”
Suarez’s departure, pending Barcelona stumping up the asking price, looks inevitable.