Liverpool’s steadfast determination not to sell Luis Suarez – certainly not to one of their main rivals – means the striker’s long-running transfer saga seems destined to run for a while yet.
The Uruguay international may have burned his bridges with many at Anfield by threatening to hand in a transfer request this week and take the club to a Premier League tribunal to make good his escape.
But the club will not allow their hand to be forced and maintain he is not for sale and the clause in his contract which Arsenal thought they had activated with a £40,000,001 bid – their second offer – is not an automatic selling one.
With both sides intransigent about their own interpretation of the player’s contract, it seems Suarez’s future may end up being determined by neither party if lawyers are brought in to fight it out.
Suarez has enlisted the help of the Professional Footballers’ Association to seek a way out but chief executive Gordon Taylor admits there may not be a straightforward answer.
“It is a delicate situation and we are trying to help,” he said.
“These buy-out clauses have caused no end of problems in the past and they continue to do so because of the way they were drafted at the time.
“He believes the £40m amount that is mentioned, if that is offered that gives him the right to go.
“Liverpool, from their side, are saying that is a minimum figure from which they will consider negotiation and of course they will want to keep the player, unless they replace the player with someone as good or better, which is not going to be easy in a short period of time.
Taylor added on talkSPORT: “There are different ways it can be interpreted.
“If it goes to the Premier League it will take time and the window is then closed.
“We have been asked to try and help to sort the situation out and we have been trying to do that.”
Suarez believes, at the very least, he has a gentleman’s agreement with Rodgers.
“Last year I had the opportunity to move to a big European club and I stayed on the understanding that if we failed to qualify for the Champions League the following season I’d be allowed to go,” he said in an interview with the Daily Telegraph and Guardian.
“It is not just something verbal with the coach but something that is written in the contract – now all I want is for Liverpool to honour our agreement.”
Suarez has previous for taking legal action, having done so to Groningen in 2006 when a bid from Ajax was rejected.
The striker went to a tribunal and lost – but was still sold as the Amsterdam side increased their offer for a player who by then had seen fans turn against him.
Manager Brendan Rodgers has admitted every player has their price (in Suarez’s case probably about £50m) but insists that should not be interpreted as the club being willing to sell a striker who scored 30 goals last season - especially to a club they hope to rival for a top-four place this campaign and particularly at the sum offered.
However, with interest failing to materialise from elsewhere – Suarez’s preferred destination Real Madrid appear focused on Tottenham’s Gareth Bale - there is currently no competition to push up the price.
“We have no intention of selling one of the top players in the world to one of our rivals,” he told liverpoolfc.com.
“We’ve obviously had a couple of bids from one club that has been nowhere near the valuation.
“I repeat – nowhere near the valuation of what he is worth in this market.
“It’s the same with any of our players – we’re very much a team that’s trying to build and go forward. For that, we want to keep our best players.
“There’s not even really a discussion point, unless someone comes within anywhere near the valuation of Luis.”
Rodgers admits he was taken aback somewhat by Arsenal’s ’plus one pound offer’ but said it was at least easy to deal with.
“To get that offer in writing in that fashion was a big surprise but there is no anger. You always have to stay calm,” he told Newstalk.
“It was something that came into the club and I was made aware of and was very quickly dismissed.
“It was a surprise because Arsenal are a wonderful club and one I always believed did things in the correct way.”