London: Luis Suarez has been told by Liverpool to train away from the squad until he shows a better attitude, with his angry manager, Brendan Rodgers, accusing him of showing “total disrespect of the club”.
Rodgers rejected Suarez’s claim that the striker was promised a move this summer if Liverpool did not qualify for the Champions League and, in a further setback for the Uruguayan, the Professional Footballers’ Association has concluded that there is no clause in his contract guaranteeing him a move for £40 million (Dh226.15 million).
Suarez’s public outburst against Liverpool, in an interview with the Guardian, has backfired on him, with the order to train away from the squad effectively signalling that he has become an outcast because of his desire to leave for Arsenal and what Rodgers regards as a lack of respect for the club and his team-mates. The manager said Suarez must publicly apologise before he can be considered for playing again.
“There were no promises made — categorically none — and no promises broken,” Rodgers said on Wednesday night. “The club and his representatives had several conversations and he knew exactly where he was at.
“I think Luis knows the support he’s had at the football club and that’s something that’s been unswerving throughout the whole of last season. Obviously the remarks I’ve read are bitterly disappointing, but my job is bigger than that. My job is to fight and protect the club.
“I will take strong, decisive action, absolutely. There has been total disrespect of the club — this is a lack of respect of a club that has given him everything, absolutely everything. I don’t believe there is a clause in his contract that says he can leave for any sort of price.”
Suarez says he is prepared to make his desire to leave official by lodging a formal transfer request by the end of this week, but Rodgers reiterated that Liverpool will sell only for the “correct value”, believed to be more than £50 million.
Questioned about Suarez playing for the club again, the manager said: “There’s a few bridges to cross before that can happen. It’s about the respect — that’s the only thing we look for. This is one of the most iconic football clubs in the world, you can’t disrespect it.”
Of an apology, he added: “That’s something I will ensure before anything happens in the future.”
Arsenal remain in line to sign Suarez should he force through his wish, with Arsene Wenger describing the club as being “on standby” as they continue to wait for what they hope will be a decisive twist to the saga.
They made a £40,000,001 bid more than two weeks ago and are pleased that Suarez has gone public. They will also wait to see how the possible legal challenges play out, with the striker having stated he will ask the Premier League to arbitrate. The league is yet to be contacted by the player.
Gordon Taylor, the PFA’s chief executive, said: “If you are going to have a supposed buyout clause, it should be that, but it is different as it says ‘if there is no qualification for the Champions League and if there is a minimum offer of £40 million, then the parties will get around the table to discuss things’. But it does not say the club has to sell. It quite clearly states £40 million is a minimum offer for discussions, but it becomes really difficult with such clauses.
“There is a ‘good-faith clause’ in relation to serious discussions, but I can’t say it is a cast-iron buyout clause.
“Luis is one of our members and we want to be supportive. However, he may well have thought such an offer would trigger a move.
“The interpretation is not that simple and there is no guarantee of getting a result if it is referred to the Premier League. I just feel like in any other transfer it is better for both parties to get around the table to try to resolve it.
“At the moment it is certainly festering and I don’t think it is a good situation for the player or the clubs involved. It is not edifying, that is why I feel we had to do our best to get round the table and see if there are grounds for consideration for the move, but it [the clause] is not specific and 100 per cent certain.”
The problem for Arsenal would appear to be that any outcome to the dispute could run beyond the transfer deadline of September 2. Their fallback option is to increase the offer, which they have the will and capacity to do.
“At the moment, the situation is on standby,” Wenger said. “I heard that [Suarez is considering legal action], but this is sometimes linked with things that you don’t know as a potential buyer. That is the story between Suarez and Liverpool and I don’t know what has been said, what has been promised and what has been written and that is only Suarez and Liverpool that can decide that.
“It is nothing to do with us. We have been told that the player wants to leave Liverpool and that is why we have acted. I really don’t know what will be decided by Liverpool.”