Suarez not for sale despite massive bid from Arsenal: Liverpool's Henry
AFPLONDON -- Liverpool owner John W. Henry has dealt a major blow to Luis Suarez's hopes of escaping Anfield after the unsettled Uruguay striker was told he won't be allowed to leave at any price.
August 10, 2013, 12:08 am TWN
Suarez has been desperate to leave the Reds since the end of last season and Arsenal have tried to take advantage by making a 40-million-pound-plus-1-pound bid that was supposed to trigger a clause in the forward's contract that allowed him to talk to interested clubs.
However, Liverpool are adamant there is no such clause, prompting a furious response from Suarez, who accused Reds boss Brendan Rodgers of going back on a promise to let him leave after the Merseyside team failed to qualify for this season's Champions League.
Rodgers reacted by banishing Suarez, who he said had shown “total disrespect,” to train with the reserves and Henry, the figurehead of the Boston-based Fenway Sports Group that owns Liverpool, has now made it clear he will not consider letting the Reds' prize asset join a top-four rival with the new Premier League season just over a week away.
“We are not going to sell Luis,” Henry was quoted as saying by the Guardian. “For all the top clubs it's extremely important (not to sell to a rival) but especially for Liverpool because we're not in Europe this year and have not been in the Champions League for a while.
“To sell to a rival for those positions, or one of them, would be ludicrous. Liverpool needs to be playing in Europe. It needs to be playing in the Champions League. That's what Liverpool football club is about.”
Liverpool may yet face a Premier League arbitration hearing or legal challenge from Suarez over the disputed clause in his contract.
Yet even the threat of a Suarez mutiny won't change Henry's stance.
“I'm unequivocal that we won't sell to Arsenal, whatever the bid is,” he said. “I have not said it to Stan (Kroenke, Arsenal's majority shareholder) but I had a personal conversation with others at Arsenal and told him (Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis) we would not sell to Arsenal.
Suarez, who is suspended for the first six games of the season after biting Chelsea's Branislav Ivanovic last term, has made no secret of his preference for a move to Real Madrid, but Henry said even an approach from the Spanish club would not succeed at this late stage.
“He won't be sold even if a foreign club comes in because we do not have time to sign a suitable replacement,” he said.
“It's a football reason. It's not about finances. That's why at this point, so late in the window, with everyone who's already moved or isn't moving, we can't replace him. So for football reasons we can't sell, and especially to Arsenal.”
In this Aug. 3 file photo, Liverpool's Uruguayan striker Luis Suarez looks on during a preseason friendly soccer match between Liverpool and Olympiakos at Anfield Stadium in ...