- Premier League
Angry Suarez hits out at Liverpool
Luis Suarez has hit out at Liverpool for failing to honour a promise from last season to let him leave for a club in the Champions League in an interview which seems to make clear he will not be at Anfield come September.
He claims the club told him a year ago they would allow him to move on if they failed to qualify for the 2013-14 Champions League. And he has declared that he is prepared to take his case to the Premier League if Liverpool try to keep him against his will.
Suarez believes that a clause in the four-year contract he signed in 2012 entitles him to join any club who put in a bid of more than £40 million But Liverpool - who rejected a £40,000,001 bid from Arsenal on July 23 - insist that they only have to inform him of such offers, and not to sell.
And principal owner John W Henry insisted on Tuesday night that Liverpool have no intention of selling the striker. Suarez has pulled out of Wednesday night's friendly with Valerenga in Norway, with the club saying that he has a foot injury.
"Last year I had the opportunity to move to a big European club and I stayed on the understanding that if we failed to qualify for the Champions League the following season I'd be allowed to go," Suarez told the Guardian. "I gave absolutely everything last season but it was not enough to give us a top-four finish - now all I want is for Liverpool to honour our agreement."
Liverpool finished seventh in the Premier League last season, failing to qualify for Europe altogether, and Suarez insists that means he can leave. "I have the club's word and we have the written contract and we are happy to take this to the Premier League for them to decide the case but I do not want it to come to that.
"I don't feel betrayed [by Liverpool] but the club promised me something a year ago just as I promised them that I would stay and try everything possible to get us into the Champions League.
"They gave me their word a year ago and now I want them to honour that. And it is not just something verbal with the coach but something that is written in the contract. I'm not going to another club to hurt Liverpool."
But Henry is adamant that Suarez will not be going. Speaking to a meeting of the Liverpool Supporters' Club in Oslo ahead of the game against Valerenga, the principal owner said: "I don't know why people are asking us if we are selling the club or the best players, because we are not. We like to buy stuff, not sell."
Manager Brendan Rodgers, meanwhile, told a press conference in Oslo on Tuesday night that Suarez remains a key part of his squad.
He did, though, hint that there was truth in reports suggesting Liverpool would consider a bid upwards of £50 million.
"We have no intention of selling one of the best players in the world to one of our rivals," Rodgers said. "Luis Suarez is very much a Liverpool player and there is no real value in discussing it unless someone comes close to the valuation."
Suarez was given a warm reception by Liverpool's fans when he came on as a substitute for the final 30 minutes of Steven Gerrard's testimonial against Olympiacos on Saturday. It was his first match action since the biting incident, and he believes Liverpool supporters will understand his reasons for wanting to move.
Liverpool were criticised for the level of support they showed for Suarez in the wake of the Evra incident, but the striker insists he has repaid their loyalty.
He said: "They defended me, just like I defended them on the pitch. The players have always supported me and I'm grateful for that. It's the same with the supporters. I got a great reception at the weekend and I am grateful. I don't think the supporters are angry - I think they understand a player when he has the ambition to triumph at the highest level.
"When you are at a club for as long as you are together you stick up for each other but that does not give the club the right to go back on their commitment.
"I'm 26. I need to be playing in the Champions League. I waited one year and no one can say that I did not give everything possible with my team-mates last season to get us there.
"It is not as if I am asking to move to a local rival. And I would not consider moving to a club outside the Champions League. I have made my desire to move known in private various times and now it feels like the time for me to make it public.
"I have to put my career first. People say Liverpool deserve more from me but I have scored 50 goals in less than 100 games and now they could double the money they paid for me.
"Liverpool will always be special for me: my daughter was born here. [Last summer] was the moment to show my loyalty to Liverpool and I did. [Liverpool] gave me my chance in England and stood up for me throughout my ban. I know I have made mistakes in my time here but I have apologised lots of times. This is not about that. This is about the club having agreed to something both verbally and in the contract which they are now not honouring.
"People may accuse me of showing a lack of loyalty but last season we told Liverpool there was interest from a top European club but they told me: We've got a new coach and we're going to push for the Champions League'.
"I spoke with Brendan Rodgers several times and he told me: 'Stay another season, and you have my word if we don't make it then I will personally make sure that you can leave'.
"Liverpool is a club with a reputation for doing things the right way. I just want them to abide by the promises made last season. Some of [my team-mates] say to me: 'We cannot understand that if you have it signed that you can't leave'."