Real Madrid believe Liverpool will be powerless to stop them signing Luis Suarez this summer if they meet a £70million buy-out clause in the striker’s contract.

Madrid will now press ahead to buy the Footballer of the Year, to form a forward line with the three most expensive players in history – Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and Suarez – while Barcelona are also weighing up a move for the Uruguayan, whose in-laws already live in the city.

Real are confident because they are convinced a new deal signed by Suarez last season includes a watertight provision that allows him to leave if another club bids £70m. It means the final decision whether to stay at Anfield rests with Suarez himself rather than the club.

Liverpool fought successfully to keep Suarez a year ago after arguing a bid of £40m and a pound from Arsenal did not trigger a fixed buy-out.

This time, manager Brendan Rodgers, still desperately hoping Suarez will stay, has been less gung-ho in his approach, knowing this time the player may be in charge of his own destiny. - Mail on Sunday