In the middle of a summer where good strikers are being sold and signed for in excess of £20 million at the drop of a hat, and the few available great strikers go for an absolute fortune, Liverpool can feel fully justified in protecting their greatest asset, Luis Suarez, and demanding a huge fee if he is to leave the club.
Arsenal's recent bids of £35 million and then £40 million—and £1—have been summarily rejected out of hand by the Anfield club, prompting the sort of responses from senior figures which would not be out of place alongside a snort of derision.
Manager Brendan Rodgers was quoted by BBC Sport as saying the bids were nowhere near Suarez's value:
If Arsenal want the player they have to produce the value for the player. There was an offer a few weeks ago of £35m and two weeks later it is now £40m and £1. I don't think it is anywhere near the value of what he is worth. It is two-fold really. A player may want to go, but then somebody has to pay the value or worth of that player.
Principle owner of the club John Henry was a little more forthright in voicing his opinion on Twitter.
What do you think they're smoking over there at Emirates?— John W. Henry (@John_W_Henry) July 24, 2013
Both have a point, and the club have a position of strength.
Suarez signed a new long-term contract with the club only last summer, and he has three more years of that deal to run. Liverpool can sit tight and demand a large fee this year, knowing that if it doesn't arrive, they'll still be able to command top dollar next summer. Only in two years time will Suarez's price realistically start to drop.
Will the player himself be prepared to wait around that long? Presumably if Liverpool were in the Champions League and winning trophies, yes, but at present that's not the state of affairs at Anfield.
A transfer request has not yet been forthcoming from the Uruguayan, though the Liverpool Echo's Peter Guy believes it is on the way, with Suarez now allowed to talk to Arsenal after they met the £40 million threshold—but that is far from saying he can leave.
Regarding Arsenal in particular, the Gunners obviously need and want a new striker this summer, and everybody knows it. They will also have read the multiple reports suggesting they have a small fortune to spend this summer, and, in targeting top forwards, they're going to have to expect to pay top money.
Arsenal have already chased and lost out on Gonzalo Higuain, seemingly being unprepared to pay the £34.5 million asking price for the Argentine.
Now they're clearly after Suarez but are again only dipping their toes at well below market value.
Consider: Higuain for close to £35 million. Edinson Cavani for £55 million. Neymar for £50 million. Radamel Falcao for £52 million. Alvaro Negredo for £22 million.
Suarez can more than hold his own against any of these names, is indeed arguably better than every one of them and has a longer-term contract left than several of them had prior to moving.
So on what planet do Arsenal think making a £30 or £40 million bid for Suarez is worth it, or has even the slightest chance of success?
Are the Gunners serious about buying Suarez, or is it a show-and-tell for the support? We tried, hard, but Liverpool's price was too much.
At £50 million, Suarez would be very much in line with the summer signings so far in terms of quality and value on the pitch. There's certainly an argument for asking for even more money from a domestic rival than from a European competitor, but that's a matter for the senior staff of Liverpool to decide.
What is absolutely clear is that the club is perfectly correct to refuse to even negotiate at this point with any interested clubs.
Suarez is Liverpool's best player, and Suarez has not formally indicated he wants to leave. So why negotiate?
If he asks to leave, then there will be a price to be met, presumably a club record sale of over £50 million.
Perhaps even £50 million—and £1.
Until then, Suarez remains a Red, and he'll be expected to act accordingly, on and off the pitch.
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