A legal battle could be brewing at Anfield after Arsenal made another sneaky bid for Liverpool star Luis Suarez.
The Gunners have activated a contentious clause in the Uruguayan striker’s contract by bidding £40 million + £1, meaning the Reds will have to allow him to speak to them.
According to the contract, Liverpool must now officially inform Suarez of Arsenal’s interest, and he is free to talk to them about a move to the Emirates.
However, Liverpool have rejected the deal out of hand, just like they did Arsenal’s first attempt to sign Suarez.
They say that the clause Arsenal activated simply allows Arsenal to talk to Suarez, but that Liverpool can still hold out for a transfer fee they believe reflects the player’s value.
Liverpool maintain that Suarez is a better player than Fernando Torres was when they sold him to Chelsea for £50 million, and they insist that he is at least as good as his compatriot Edinson Cavani, who recently joined PSG from Napoli for £55 million.
The Reds continue to insist that Suarez is not for sale “unless something drastic” happens.
The general consensus is now that ‘drastic’ = £55 million, and that Arsenal will have to decimate their £15 million record transfer fee if they are serious about signing Suarez.
However, the player’s agent, Pere Guardiola, is said to believe the £40 million + 1 clause is in fact a buyout clause, and that Liverpool must now agree to sell Suarez to the Gunners.
The striker is no stranger to courtroom controversy, having sued Groningen to allow him to join Ajax Amsterdam when the Dutch giants wanted to lure him away.
Groningen had taken a major risk to give raw teenage Suarez his break in European club football, and he repaid their loyalty by taking them to court.
He lost, but had burned his bridges to the extent that the club was ultimately glad to see him go.
Something similar could now ensue with Liverpool, who have backed Suarez to the hilt despite his apparent determination to drag the club’s name through the mud.
He has repaid their loyalty be first insisting he wants to leave England, and then, when Real Madrid did not bid for him, by admitting he would be open to a move to Arsenal.
Suarez is expected to feature for Liverpool in their pre-season friendly in Australia today, and it could well be that the match in front of nearly 100 000 Reds fans is the last time he turns out for the club he hopes to leave in the lurch.
Meanwhile, Liverpool's owner, John W Henry, has reacted derisively towards Arsenal's bid, tweeting: "What do you think they're smoking over there at the Emirates?"