Suarez Barcelona talks ‘productive’

By BBC

Liverpool have held “productive” talks with Barcelona over the proposed sale of striker Luis Suarez but no deal has been finalised between the clubs.

Reds chief executive Ian Ayre spent much of Wednesday in discussions with senior Barcelona officials in London.

The Reds remain adamant Suarez, 27, will not be sold for less than the release clause in his contract, believed to be between £70m and £80m.

“The talks held were productive,” a senior Liverpool source told the BBC.

“There are sensible expectations on both sides.

“Further talks and discussions will take place but no deal has yet been finalised.”

Suarez, who joined Liverpool for £22.7m from Ajax in 2011 and has four years remaining on his Liverpool contract, is serving a four-month ban for biting Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini during the World Cup.

Barcelona are understood to want to pay closer to £60m for the player, and any deal may include 25-year-old Chile winger Alexis Sanchez, who is also wanted by Juventus, in part-exchange.

However, while Barcelona are willing to include Sanchez as part of the deal, Liverpool do not see the forward’s involvement as crucial – and there is a growing sense at Anfield that Barcelona are close to offering a figure that the clubs can agree on.

Speaking at a media conference on Wednesday, Barcelona club president Josep Maria Bartomeu said: “This year we are going to restructure the team in depth and we are working on that.

“We have been working on that since February, but I can’t reveal things we are doing.

“We have to be discreet – we can’t give clues to other teams.

“We do have a lot of negotiations at a very advanced stage, but the World Cup is going on. People are speculating about a lot of players at the World Cup, but there’s a lot of different factors.”

Pressed on Suarez, he 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.

“He’s a player who needs to rebuild himself and get back to playing football.”

Liverpool are pragmatic about Suarez’s ambitions and are aware he would welcome a move to Spain, and particularly to Barcelona.

Suarez apologised on Monday for biting Chiellini, after which Barcelona sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta said: “Suarez has shown he is humble enough to admit an error, which is very important.

“Everyone knows Luis is an excellent player, everyone knows last season he played in various positions in attack, but everyone also knows he is a Liverpool player.”

Bartomeu described the player’s decision to apologise as “honourable” and “good for football”.

“He did something wrong and I think it’s everybody in football’s responsibility, whether it’s Liverpool or others, to help him to go ahead and press on with his football career. It’s not easy to admit your mistakes,” he said.

Croatia midfielder Ivan Rakitic, who completed his move to Barcelona from Sevilla on Tuesday, also praised Suarez.

He said: “The fact he has had the character and the strength to go in front of everyone and say sorry says a lot about him as a person.”