Belfast Telegraph

Arsenal to make bold bid for Luis Suarez

By Matt McGeehan

Arsenal are planning a new bid for Liverpool's Luis Suarez, which is more than double their previous transfer record.

Gunners manager Arsene Wenger has been told he can bid £40m-plus for the unsettled Uruguay forward and will once again test Liverpool's resolve.

A straight bid of £40m would allow Suarez to talk to Arsenal, but sources at the club say the actual bid is likely to be £35m with a further £7m in add-ons.

Wenger has already had offers of £30m and £35m rejected by Liverpool and there is no guarantee they'd entertain this latest offer for a striker who cost them £22.7m from Ajax in January 2011.

Suarez has appeared relaxed since joining Liverpool's pre-season tour of Australia, but would probably want the opportunity to at least discuss a possible move away from Anfield.

Arsenal's transfer record was set in January 2009, when they paid £15m to sign Andrey Arshavin. Their present bid for Suarez already more than doubles that.

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers, meanwhile, is confident youngster Raheem Sterling will not only begin this season with the impact he did the last one, but maintain a higher standard throughout.

The forward, who had just three league substitute appearance to his name from the previous campaign, was handed a surprise start against Manchester City last August aged just 17.

He then started the next 15 matches in succession, during which time he also made his full England debut and after signing his first major contract he remained a key part of Rodgers' first-team plans until injury saw his season ended in late March.

The manager believes a summer of recuperation has been beneficial and expects even more from the player this time around.

He has already responded with goals in both of Liverpool's pre-season friendlies so far and Rodgers said: "I thought he was outstanding the other night (against an Indonesia XI).

"He's come back refreshed. He looks so fit, he looks sharp, he looks better than what he was last summer when I came in and I think he'll play a big part for us again this season.

"At 18 years of age, he has so much potential. If we nurture that well and he can retain his focus and mentality, he can be a big talent for Liverpool. I've been pleased with what I've seen from him so far."

Sterling (pictured), signed for an initial £600,000 from QPR aged just 15, was given his first-team debut by previous manager Kenny Dalglish in March 2012.

However, it was not until he was thrust into the limelight by Rodgers that he began to show true potential.

"It was a year ago when I came into the club and he came away with us on pre-season as a reserve/youth-team player, and his enthusiasm, quality and tenacity hit me," said Rodgers.

"He ended up starting the season after the West Brom game and for the first six months he was sensational.

"He ended up getting a full England cap, which shows you the impact he made at 17 years of age, and make over 30 (Liverpool) appearances."

While Sterling brings youthful enthusiasm to the squad a player with probably greater significance at the other end of his career and opposite end of the pitch.

Centre-back Kolo Toure was signed on a free after leaving Manchester City and the 32-year-old has already been pencilled in as the natural replacement for Jamie Carragher in terms of leadership.

Fellow defender Daniel Agger has welcomed the addition of the Ivory Coast international's experience.

"He's been around so long, he knows what he is doing. He is a good guy, too," said the Denmark defender. "Experience is important for the team."

Belfast Telegraph


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