LONDON: Liverpool for all their success down the years, the great victories, the league titles, the cups at home and abroad plus a whole host of great players, are finding all of this possesses value only up to a point.
That point is the cut-off line between fourth and fifth place in the Premier League which separates the elite with Champions League presence from the also-rans with only the ambition of access, next year at best.
Brendan Rodgers is discovering that hard truth after Liverpool finished ‘only’ seventh last season. He had hoped to sign Henryk Mkhitaryan from Shakhtar Donetsk but the Armenian preferred the option of Champions League with Dortmund. Now, Rodgers is also coming under pressure over the future of Luis Suarez.
Liverpool know that the Uruguayan would grace the Champions League, whatever the ‘bite’ of his personality which means he will miss the opening six games of the Premier League season after his assault on the upper arm of Chelsea’s Brane Ivanovic.
Suarez knows it too. The 26-year-old has taken advantage of a summer in South America to speak more freely and openly about his future than he would ever dream of doing to the UK media whose intrusive culture he hates.
The offer for which he and his agent – Pere Guardiola, brother of Pep – had hoped has yet to come. Instead the opening salvo in a transfer saga which may run right up to deadline day came in the shape of a £30m offer from Arsenal on Monday.
Liverpool turned it down and expect to see Suarez back for pre-season training and a flight to Australia as scheduled on July 21.
Suarez scored 30 goals in 44 appearances for Liverpool last season and, since arriving from Ajax in January 2011 for £22.7m, has totalled 51 in 96 appearances. These have been important statistics for Liverpool. They know Suarez wants to play in the Champions League. Guardiola told Rodgers as much on Monday.
Suarez also values his goal-scoring record. He told a radio station in Montevideo: “It’s good to know that after everything that’s happened, teams in England still value me as a footballer. There are several options. There are two or three interested clubs and Liverpool know about this.
“You never know what’s going to happen. A phone call could change my plans. I am talking with my agent and I always have my phone with me in case anything develops. For now I am very calm.”
Suarez was not the only person surprised by Arsenal’s interest, considering the Gunners’ pursuit of Real Madrid’s Argentina striker Gonzalo Higuain.
The bid was a sign that Arsenal are growing impatient at repeated delays in the player’s promised arrival in London amid reports from Spain that Madrid president Florentino Perez and coach Carlo Ancelotti may wish to think again about a sale.