Liverpool's unsettled striker Luis Suarez reached a truce with the club yesterday as he returned to full training at the club, after an agreement that is understood to have been more of an amicable conversation than a full apology.
The Uruguayan forward, who has been seeking a move away all summer, had initially been told to train on his own last week until he said sorry for his behaviour. Rodgers had said that for Suarez to return to the fold at Liverpool “there has to be a recognition and apology to his team-mates and the club”.
Suarez did train back with the group yesterday after talks with Rodgers. But while there has clearly been a rapprochement of sorts between player and club, it is understood that Suarez has not made a full apology, nor had he been asked for one. Liverpool have remained tight-lipped on what discussions took place.
The fact that an agreement has been reached suggests that Suarez’s attempts to leave this summer are over, that he is likely to stay at Liverpool for the immediate future and that the uncompromising stance taken by the club’s principal owner, John W Henry, has been successful.
Suarez’s exile began last week following poor performances in friendly matches. Rodgers also accused him of showing “total disrespect” for the club after he went public with his desire to leave, saying that the club had reneged on a promise to allow him to move this summer following bids of £35m and over £40m from Arsenal.
“There were no promises made and no promises broken,” Rodgers said at the time. “There has been total disrespect of the club – a club that has given him everything.” Rodgers later identified an apology to the club and evidence of commitment as conditions of Suarez’s reintegration.
Suarez spoke publicly earlier this month, saying that he wanted Liverpool to “honour an agreement” that he would be allowed to leave if they did not qualify for this season’s Champions League.
“They gave me their word a year ago and now I want them to honour that. And it is not just something verbal with the coach but something that is written in the contract.”
Suarez’s attempts to leave Liverpool centred on this disputed clause in his contract, which he believed would allow him to leave if there was a bid of over £40m for him. Arsenal attempted to trigger this with a bid of £40,000,001 but Liverpool insisted that it was not an automatic release clause and that he would not be sold.
Suarez had hoped that the Professional Footballers’ Association would take his side but they did not. “If there is a minimum offer of £40m then the parties will discuss things but it does not say the club has to sell,” said the PFA’s chief executive Gordon Taylor. “There is a ‘good faith’ clause in relation to serious discussions, but I can’t say it is a cast-iron buy-out clause.”
Henry decided that he would not bend to player power and made it clear that Suarez would not be sold. “We are not going to sell Luis,” he said. “It’s a football reason. It’s not finances. At this point, so late in the window, with everyone who’s already moved or isn’t moving, we do not have time to replace him. I have said to [Arsenal chief executive] Ivan Gazidis in a personal conversation that we will not sell to Arsenal. It is unequivocal.”
Even though he now appears to be staying, Suarez will not be involved for Liverpool as they begin their Premier League campaign against Stoke City this afternoon. Suarez was given a 10-game ban in April for biting Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic, putting him out of the last four games of last season and the first six games of this campaign.
He is likely to return for Liverpool’s Capital One Cup third-round match, if they beat Notts County in the second round, having missed the Premier League games against Stoke, Aston Villa, Manchester United, Swansea City and Southampton.
The France international arrives at Anfield after the club could not complete deals for Guilherme Siqueira of Granada or Benfica’s Lorenzo Melgarejo.