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Henry: We ignored Suarez's contract

ESPN staff
March 3, 2014 « Arsenal are still soft, says Nzonzi | Chartbeat test »
John W Henry (right) says sale of Fernando Torres changed his view of contracts © Getty Images
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Liverpool's principal owner John W. Henry has taken an uncompromising stance on players' contracts as he becomes bullish about the club's prospects.

The American claims his time at Anfield has taught him that deals for team members "don't hold" and that is why he was able to embarrass Arsenal over Luis Suarez last summer.

Henry said: "Suarez is the top scorer in the English Premier League, which is arguably the top soccer league in the world.

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"He had a buy-out clause of £40 million so Arsenal, one of our prime rivals this year, offered £40,000,001 for him and triggered his buy-out clause.

"But what we've found over the years is that contracts don't seem to mean a lot in England - actually not in England, in world football.

"It doesn't matter how long a player's contract is, he can decide he's leaving," Henry said at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference in Boston on Saturday.

Arsenal had two Suarez bids rejected last summer and their manager, Arsene Wenger, was forced on to the defensive with their transfer dealings being questioned.

They eventually signed Mesut Ozil but had to pay £42.5m to secure a star signing big enough to stop the sniping.

The club had thought they could trigger a release clause in Suarez's contract and allow him to enter talks but Liverpool stood firm, only informing Suarez there had been a bid.

Suarez, who wanted to leave at the time, was under contract until 2016 and has gone on to score 24 Premier League goals and sign a new deal committing him to the club for two more years.

Neither Liverpool nor the player have revealed whether the new deal has a buy-out clause but Henry has suggested such details may not be binding anyway.

"We sold Fernando Torres for £50m," he said. "We didn't want to sell but we were forced to. For the first time [with Suarez], we took the position that we weren't selling.

"Since apparently these contracts don't seem to hold, we took the position we're just not selling and it's been great for Luis, it's been great for us.

"What will happen at the end of year? I think we're going to make Champions League and we have a small chance of winning the Premier League this year.

"We have three gentlemen up front: Suarez, [Raheem] Sterling and [Daniel] Sturridge. Those three are young, and I think Luis and those three could be together for a long time."

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