There may be no going back from this. Under other circumstances, perhaps when you’re trying to put a young player in check, a manager can go public with these types of comments and still salvage a relationship.
But it doesn’t sound like Brendan Rodgers is interested in that. By going public with his criticisms of Luis Suárez, the Liverpool boss seems to be edging his striker toward the door.
For now, though Rodgers is still talking about the Arsenal target as if he’s in the Reds’ long-term plans, denying Suárez’s accusations that the club have broken promises to let the Uruguayan leave this summer. From the Liverpool Echo:
“There were no promises made – categorically none – and no promises broken,” Rodgers said.
“The club and his representatives had several conversations and he knew exactly where he was at …
“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.”
That last point has been contentious during Suárez’s quest to leave. It’s generally understood Suárez’ representatives thought the player’s contract had a £40 million ($62 million) release clause. Today it was reported that the clause states negotiations for a move can only begin after such a bid is received, but it doesn’t oblige the transfer.
According to Rodgers, whether that threshold is met or not, Suárez may not play for Liverpool again:
Rodgers insists Suarez’s behaviour changes little about the club’s position on his future. They will only consider bids which are representative of his market value – in excess of £50million.
But the manager admits Suarez could only play for Liverpool again if he apologies to the supporters for his conduct …
“This is one of the most iconic football clubs in the world, you can’t disrespect it. That’s something I will ensure (an apology) before anything happens in the future. That bridge will need to be crossed …
“What we are trying to do is get the correct value for a player. The reality is we don’t want to sell Luis Suarez, it’s as simple as that.
“He is important for what we are trying to do. There have been a couple of offers but no promises broken – that’s the reality.”
And that’s the story we’ve heard for months: Others want him, yet Liverpool want to keep him. But psychology is a powerful thing. Once you plant a seed in your mind, something that can blossom into an idea, it has a way of taking hold. And between this £50 million figure and Rodgers saying Suárez won’t play without apologizing, he’s given himself an out. He’s given himself a way of saying I didn’t want to sell, but he wouldn’t apologize, so I took £45 million because the club can’t be disrespected.
Funny how our high-minded ideals can be used so cynically. We’ll see of Rodgers’ move Suárez to Arsenal.