The Conundrum – Suarez

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The complicated Suarez saga is finally edging towards conclusion. The Reds are hoping to keep their star forward from Arsenal’s clutches this summer, while Real Madrid are expected to finally make their interest in the unsettled striker public by next week.

So, what are the options for the player and the clubs involved? And will Premier League audiences be watching the controversial but brilliant forward in the coming season? The ‘facts’ so far in this developing transfer saga are thus:

Suarez, speaking while back in South America earlier in the close season, first said he wanted out of Anfield because he felt persecuted by the British media. Then, in a change of tack, he seemingly said he wanted to join a club in the Champions League and was flattered by Arsenal’s then reported interest in him.

That gave the Gunners the green light to make an offer, immediately rejected by Liverpool, of around £30m. The Reds then said that amount was well below their valuation and hinted that, if they did decide to sell the 26-year-old, only offers in excess of £45m would be enough.

However, it then emerged Suarez has some sort of clause in his contract that stipulates if anyone bids £40m then the club must inform him of it. Liverpool were keen to point out, though, that it is not a release clause per se and they do not have to sell at that price, despite the Gunners’ somewhat mischevious £40m-plus-£1 offer in order to try and trigger just that scenario.

But what will happen next? Well, many soccer betting pundits think we are approaching the ‘end-game’ in this summer saga and a resolution will be forthcoming by the next couple of weeks at the latest, as the Reds do not want it to drag on any longer and will need to time to find a replacement if he does go.

Arsenal must now decide how much they really want Suarez, as a serious offer of £50million may well be enough for Liverpool to accept.

If the Gunners, notoriously tight in the past, do increase their offer substantially, then they will, in all probability, get their man, and the former Ajax star will be winding his way down to London – safe in the knowledge he has Champions League football to look forward to and the privilege of being their biggest-ever signing to boot.

Of course, it is not quite as straightforward as all that, with Real’s supposed interest and Liverpool’s ongoing attempts to keep him.

Rodgers very cleverly said following his side’s 2-0 win in Melbourne that Suarez “owes Liverpool some loyalty” after the club publicly stood by him during the Patrice Evra race row. The club’s fans – who are now growing increasingly frustrated with the issue – have always been 100 per cent behind their star forward.

Suarez, in a quiet moment, may reflect on this unflinching support and believe he does, in fact, need to show some humility and gratitude, and offer to stay on for another 12 months.

Liverpool will push this argument as their side of things and hope, now their number seven is back within the confines of the club, he does reconsider. A new, improved salary dressed up with the facade of a contract extension could sweeten Suarez further and could yet be another carrot his current club dangle his way in one final attempt to keep him at Anfield.

Real is a preferred destination though and, if they come in with a bid to match the Gunners, then Liverpool will quickly accept and he will be on his way. But the Spaniards have so far not made any official contact and are thought to be concentrating on luring Gareth Bale from Spurs – another saga in itself that could drag on well into August.

If Real leave it too late, many betting sites indicate that Liverpool are very unlikely to entertain any offers past mid-August as they will have no time to seek out a replacement.

The smart money would still be on Suarez ending up in Madrid, provided they now get in gear and offer the huge sum Liverpool are holding out for. The Reds do not want to sell to Arsenal and the Gunners seem reluctant to offer what the Merseysiders want so, in that respect, staying at Anfield also remains a distinct possibility.

A big thankyou to Aidan Perkins for this update!

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