Soccer: Liverpool fire back at Gunners' provocative bid to secure Suarez

By Chris Bascombe

Liverpool's Luis Suarez. Photo / AP
Liverpool's Luis Suarez. Photo / AP

Liverpool soccer manager Brendan Rodgers has accused Arsenal of lacking class in the way they have pursued striker Luis Suarez.

Rodgers reflected the sense of indignation at Anfield upon receiving a bid of 1 above 40 million ($79 million), an offer Arsenal presumed would trigger an exit clause in Suarez's contract.

While Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has sermonised in recent days about the values of his football club, criticising Liverpool for public statements resisting any sale, the Anfield board believe the bid itself was highly provocative.

"I was surprised," said Rodgers, when asked how he felt when the offer was lodged. "I've got to say I've always associated Arsenal as a club with class and so there was a wee bit of a game there. For us, it's about moving on and doing our own work.

"Obviously, they have an interest and they put that interest in with two bids which were nowhere near what the player is worth. That's within their right.

There is a market in football for players, but from us the message is constant: we do not want to sell. There will come a point where they understand that.

"I'm extremely confident that he will be here. As I said, the offers have come in as you would expect for one of the world's leading strikers but as time goes by I'm gaining more confidence because I have a chance to be with him on a day-to-day basis and he gets the chance to be around his teammates."

Suarez was welcomed by Liverpool supporters when he made a substitute appearance during Steven Gerrard's testimonial at the weekend, the home side defeating Olympiakos of Greece 2-0. The Uruguayan, however, was a notable absentee at the gala dinner held in the captain's honour in Liverpool on Saturday evening, local time.

Rodgers said Liverpool have already gone beyond the point where they would allow Suarez to leave because there is no time to find a suitable replacement. However, he has suggested the 26-year-old would be allowed to go in a year's time should the club fail to finish in the top four. "It's one where, speaking with the club and board, there is no actual date but certainly a timeline beyond which you would never sell, and really we are at that stage now because it is so close to the start of the season.

"We're focused on Luis being here and getting more in so we are part of the conversation about being at the top of the table. We understand it could be different next summer.

"A player with two years left on his contract is totally different, but Luis has three and we want to bring people in to play around and with him so we can sustain a challenge this year. I know the board are standing strong and I know where I am at and Luis knows exactly what my thinking is."

He said: "The owners have been brilliant. If it was another club needing the money or desperate for the money it could have been a different story. But John Henry and Tom Werner have been first-class through the whole process, so there are no arguments there and it gives you the confidence they are not in any hurry to sell because they understand we are trying to build here."

The question of how Arsenal came to be so certain their offer would succeed, given it is contrary to Premier League regulations to know the confidential details of a rival player's contract, has yet to be addressed by the north London club.

Should Suarez pursue legal channels to force Liverpool to accept the bid of 40,000,001, as has been suggested, Arsenal would be compelled to explain on what basis they were led to believe such a clause existed.

Liverpool were themselves hauled before the authorities in 2000, when they were made privy to details of Christian Ziege's Middlesbrough contract.

They succeeded with a 5.5 million bid but were fined after being found guilty by a Premier League commission of making an illegal approach.

Although the Merseyside club do not plan an official complaint against Arsenal at this stage, it has simply added to the sense of consternation as Wenger directs criticism at Liverpool's handling of the Suarez affair, with the Anfield hierarchy insisting they are simply doing everything within their power to preserve the club's interests.

- Daily Telegraph UK

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