at the Union Buildings in Pretoria
Luis Suarez has a £70million buy-out clause in his new Liverpool contract, which has heightened the importance of the club qualifying for the Champions League this season.
The Uruguay striker — the leading scorer in the Premier League with 20 goals — delighted Anfield fans by signing a £225,000-a-week deal last month after trying to force his way out of the club in the summer.
But the 26-year-old still harbours hopes of playing in the Champions League and this time has insisted on a watertight clause which means he can go if the likes of Barcelona, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich or Paris Saint-Germain offer £70million for him. A move would be more likely if Liverpool finish outside the top four.
Agent Per Guardiola — brother of Bayern manager Pep — was wrongfooted last summer when his belief that Liverpool would have to sell Suarez if a club bid in excess of £40m proved unfounded. Arsenal were criticised for offering £40m plus £1 for Suarez and Liverpool vehemently denied promising the player earlier he could leave if the club did not play in the Champions League.
The new deal, therefore, pleased all parties, with Suarez — who loves his time on Merseyside and will not consider leaving if Liverpool are involved in Europe’s elite competition — earning a bumper pay rise and manager Brendan Rodgers knowing his star man will be at Anfield for the rest of the season.
However, the buy-out clause, while high — it would make Suarez the third-most expensive player in the world after Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo — is just over half the £120m which Kop legend Ian Rush said was the buy-out figure and a more realistic valuation for potential buyers.
Suarez has been the best player in the Premier League since returning from a 10-match ban for biting Branislav Ivanovic.
He is scoring at more than a goal a game and was named Liverpool captain when Steven Gerrard and Daniel Agger were out of the side.
Rodgers will decide whether to rest Suarez for today’s FA Cup tie against League One Oldham.
The Anfield boss hopes to be busy in the transfer window. Besides wanting a left-back, he has also been heavily linked with Basle winger Mohamed Salah and Barcelona’s Cristian Tello. – Mail On Sunday