Barcelona ‘in Suárez talks with Liverpool’

2014-07-02 11:13

Barcelona officials will meet their Liverpool counterparts in London today to open negotiations on a possible deal for disgraced Anfield striker Luis Suárez (27), say British media reports.

Barcelona appear to be leading the race among clubs linked with the Uruguayan, who was expelled from the World Cup and handed a nine-match competitive international ban and a four-month sanction from any soccer activity for biting Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini in a Group D match.

A meeting between the Merseyside club officials and a delegation led by Raul Sanllehi, Barcelona’s director of football management, was scheduled to discuss the future of last season’s Premier League top scorer, said the reports.

To prise Suárez away from Liverpool, the Spanish club will either need to meet the release clause, reportedly about £70-£80 million (R750 million-R857 million), in his revised contract or possibly offer a player-plus-cash deal.

If the Merseysiders opt for the latter agreement, Barcelona’s Chilean striker Alexis Sánchez – a Liverpool target in the past – appears to be the Anfield side’s preferred choice as Suárez’s replacement.

After initially denying that he had bitten Chiellini in Uruguay’s 1-0 win in Natal on June 24, Suárez issued a carefully worded statement on Monday, admitting his offence and vowing there would be no repeat.

Barcelona sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta stoked rumours of a possible move for Suárez to the Catalan club on Tuesday by praising him for his “humility” in admitting his mistake.

In the run-up to the tournament in Brazil, Suárez scored 11 goals in 16 qualifying matches to help Uruguay secure a berth at the finals, while at Liverpool, his 31 league goals were the catalyst for the club’s surprising second-place finish.

Suárez also finished the season with a share of the European Golden Boot and was named Footballer of the Year by the Professional Footballers’ Association and the Football Writers’ Association.

However, his life in England has not been without controversy since he arrived from Ajax in January 2011.

He has served lengthy bans twice during his stay at Anfield, once for racially abusing Manchester United’s Patrice Evra and again for biting Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic last year.

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