Liverpool sensationally offered to sell Luis Suarez to Arsenal in exchange for £40 million plus Theo Walcott last summer, Goal can reveal.
Details of Liverpool’s proposal emerged ahead of the sides’ crucial clash at Anfield on Saturday, with the Merseysiders having made the shock offer to the Gunners in the final days of summer transfer window.
But manager Arsene Wenger rejected the move because he felt it inflated the value of Suarez and he did not want to lose Walcott. With the England international valued at £25m by Liverpool, Arsenal were effectively asked to pay a fee worth £65m for Suarez.
Liverpool had appeared to close the door on the possibility of Suarez moving to Arsenal when they turned down their rivals’ £40m-plus-£1 bid for the striker in late July and made it clear, publically and privately, that increased offers from the London club would not be entertained.
As confusion reigned in Suarez’s camp over whether he could leave, behind the scenes the 27-year-old continued to agitate for a transfer to Wenger’s team.
A conclusion to the drama came after the striker signed a new, £200,000-a-week four-and-a-half-year contract in December but, as revealed by Goal, a buy-out clause was inserted in the deal which allows him to be sold to an overseas club from June.
The precise release figure, which can only be triggered by a non-English club, is unknown but sources anticipate it is in the region of £60-70m.
Suarez and his agent Pere Guardiola were keen to obtain a watertight agreement that the striker could leave if Liverpool should again fail to qualify for next season’s Champions League.
The Merseysiders, on their part, wanted to ensure the Uruguayan cannot sign for another English club without their consent.
The new buy-out clause allows some leeway for Suarez should his outstanding form not be matched by the progress of Brendan Rodgers’ team in the second half of the season.
Speaking on Thursday at his media briefing ahead of Arsenal’s trip to Liverpool on Saturday, Wenger said he was no longer interested in signing Suarez, who tops the Premier League scoring charts with 23 goals this season.
Suarez, speaking when he signed his new contract, claimed he will honour his long-term commitment to Liverpool. “It’s nice because when you extend your contract, you extend it because you want to stay here for the future,” said the striker, who turned 27 in January.
“I signed not only for two-and-a-half more years, but I signed for a long time to stay here and I am so happy. When you are happy, you try everything for the best for the future.”