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Suarez talks productive but Sanchez hitch on horizon

ESPN staff
July 3, 2014 « Vincent: I couldn't say no | WILL TEST Rashid's burst takes Yorkshire top »
Suarez to Barcelona talks open

Liverpool and Barcelona have held "productive talks" over the potential transfer of Luis Suarez with the La Liga club reported to have offered around £70 million for the striker.

While the initial fee falls £10m short of Liverpool's valuation, the Spanish club are thought to be willing to increase their cash offer or include Alexis Sanchez as part of a player-swap deal.

However, Arsenal's interest in the Chile forward and his apparent preference for a move to London - which has not been confirmed in the Suarez negotiations - could prove a potential stumbling block.

Arsene Wenger has made it clear he wants to bring a new striker to the Emirates this summer, having been linked with both Mario Balotelli and Karim Benzema and the Guardian claims Arsenal have tabled a £22 million bid for Sanchez.

Arsenal also believe the player would prefer a move to London, but Liverpool insist talks would not have reached this stage had Sanchez not been interested in a move to Anfield. His final decision on his next club could delay the Suarez sale.

Raul Sanllehi, Barca's director of football management, met with Liverpool chief executive Ian Ayre in London on Wednesday to open preliminary talks over the transfer of Suarez.

The Premier League club have made it clear they are unlikely to budge on their valuation, which is thought to based on a buyout clause in his contract, and only if £30m-rated Sanchez is happy to sign at Anfield would they consider a smaller cash fee.

Further talks over Suarez are planned over the next few days with Liverpool sources suggesting initial contact had included "sensible expectations on both sides".

Liverpool will hope their advantage of offering Champions League football to Sanchez instead of the qualifier Arsenal face in August will be telling. The iconic No.7 jersey will also be vacant if Suarez signs for Barcelona.

Suarez has just begun a four-month worldwide ban from all football activity, imposed by FIFA after he bit defender Giorgio Chiellini during Uruguay's 1-0 World Cup Group D win over Italy. That ban, however, does not extend to transfers, FIFA has confirmed.

Having intially claimed in his submission to a disciplinary panel that the bite was accidental, Suarez admitted the offence on Monday as he issued an apology on Twitter. It has been suggested that Barcelona had insisted on an apology if the transfer was to proceed.

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