Suarez set to begin talks with Arsenal

 
Frank Dalleres
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Liverpool still demand more than £50m as Rodgers makes loyalty plea to Uruguayan

LIVERPOOL manager Brendan Rodgers has reminded Luis Suarez of the debt he owes the club’s fans, as the unsettled striker appears set to open negotiations with Arsenal.

The Reds have rejected two offers from the Gunners, including a bid for £40m and one pound that prompted the Anfield club’s owner John Henry to quip: “What are they smoking at the Emirates?”

Liverpool are said to be demanding more than £50m for the controversial Uruguay international, yet Arsenal’s offer looks to have been sufficient to allow them to discuss a contract with the player, despite disagreement over the precise terms of his contract.

As Suarez’s departure grows increasingly likely, Rodgers has told the player that he owes the Merseyside club and their fans for supporting him after charges of racially abusing and biting opponents.

“There is no doubt the market for top players is very small. Luis will always be linked with top clubs. But the support he has received from the supporters and people of Liverpool has been unrivalled despite the fact he has missed a lot of games for various reasons,” he said.

“They have stood by him like a son and looked after him. Whatever happens in the coming weeks I am sure that’ll be something in his mind. It’s not something you can ever forget.”

Suarez, 26, received an eight-match ban and a £40,000 fine in January 2012 after being found guilty of racially abusing Manchester United’s Patrice Evra during a match. Liverpool attracted widespread criticism for their support of him.

Suarez made his first pre-season appearance for Liverpool yesterday, coming off the bench for the final stages of a 2-0 win over Melbourne Victory in front of more than 95,000 spectators at the MCG.

He has also interested Real Madrid and, despite their reluctance to sell a player with three years left on his contract, Liverpool may be more inclined to sell to a foreign club than Premier League rivals.

Real yesterday banked around £27m from the sale of Argentina centre-forward Gonzalo Higuain to Napoli, though the Spanish giants have considered a deal for Tottenham’s Gareth Bale a greater priority.

Arsenal had also chased Higuain, only to drop their interest when Real increased their asking price, leaving Suarez seemingly their sole striking target in an increasingly bold, if risky, transfer strategy.