Well that was easy wasn’t it? When the rumours started circulating last week that the club had opened negotiations with Suarez over a new deal, most people would have thought that word ‘protracted’ was going to become overused in the next few months. That’s not how it’s panned out, merely a week after news of both sides sitting down at the metaphorical negotiating table, Suarez has signed a new deal which keeps him at the club until 2018.
If only it was that simple. Modern football contracts are so pointless, clubs might as well start writing them in the sky with the help of a bi-plane and a skilled pilot; the next change of wind direction blowing all clauses and promises away with no memory of their ever having been there. This deal doesn’t mean Suarez will be at Liverpool beyond next summer but what it does ensure is that all parties now know where they stand going forward. The quagmire that developed over the last Suarez contract will have had concrete, steel and diamond poured over it and there’ll no doubt be more clauses in this contract than in a Faustian pact.
Oddly though, this new deal probably suits both sides very well. There’s no way this contract gets done so quickly unless both sides were happy with what they had. Now you would be forgiven for thinking that Liverpool’s bargaining position is weak, considering the strife Suarez caused in the summer and time running out on his old contract, but if anyone thinks that FSG are going to agree to a deal that weakens what they currently had, then they weren’t following last summer’s transfer activity very closely.
Any confusion over what triggers a release clause will be cleared up and no doubt that fee is a darn sight higher than £40 million, and here’s where Liverpool have possibly done very well. By offering Suarez Ted Danson money of £200,000 per week, they’re saying to him that he’s their most valuable player and one of the biggest stars on the planet. No doubt Suarez and his agent agree, but if they agree to that then they must surely have agreed that the release fee for such a player is a lot further north than £40 million. Take the big salary increase and clearer release clause but if you do, you’re acknowledging that the release clause will be large.
This is all speculation on my part, but it’s reasonable speculation. Outside of how it benefits the player and the club’s relations with that player, it also does wonders for the club as a whole. Obviously getting a player of the calibre of Suarez to sign up is a great lift for the fans, but what else does it do? Well it does FSG’s reputation of fair but tough negotiators no harm. Their policy of no contract extension talk during the season is an admirable one but it’s pleasing to see that they’re not so dogmatic that they can’t make exceptions when needed.
Perception among players, agents and other clubs will be that FSG won the game of brinksmanship with Suarez. Sure he got a pay rise but most would agree that in relative terms, that raise has been earned by him, and when it all comes down to it, he’s still a Liverpool player. Elsewhere Spurs thrash about trying to come to terms with a post-Gareth Bale world; the money pocketed in that deal bringing very cold comfort.
The league position in which the club currently sits no doubt helped sweeten the deal but the best thing about this contract is that it gives a strong indication that if Liverpool can return to Champions League football, they will do so with Luis Suarez. There’s a lot of football between then and now, plus a World Cup, but suddenly Liverpool’s future looks a little more secure should they return to the European elite.
The first thing I should say is that I'm made up with the news. It's an extremely pleasant surprise and it will give everybody at the club a huge lift at a crucial stage of the season. However, without wanting to urinate on anybody's fried potatoes here, I don't feel it changes anything in terms of the likelihood of Suarez staying or going. It's still very much 'as you were' on that score.
What is does do, is give the club some protection in terms of his value. We probably won't get to know the ins and outs of whatever clauses exist until one or both parties have reason to leak the details. In other words, if Suarez decides he wants out then his agent will do what he did last summer, and run his mouth to the press and to whatever clubs happen to be interested. Hopefully for his sake he's not dropped a bollock like he did last time. For our sake, let’s hope he has!
Without a contract extension Liverpool would have been somewhat vulnerable in the summer. With it, their position is a lot more secure. Does it make Suarez more likely to stay? I don't really see it that way. If he wants to leave, he'll probably still leave. I'd like to think that if we qualify for next year's Champions League then it would take something incredible to make him want to go. For example, I doubt he’d turn down an approach from Real Madrid, but it would be pretty shocking if he fancied Arsenal.
If we don't get in the top four and Suarez decides he wants to leave, then frankly who could blame him? If we failed to reach the top four with him playing the way he is currently, we wouldn't deserve to hold on to him anyway.
What this deal does is provide security for both parties. Suarez will get a payrise that he richly deserves, he's probably got the assurances he wants about being allowed to leave if we can't give him what he wants in terms of success, whilst the club will at least know that they will get a suitable fee for him should the worst come to the worst.
One thing I have to say though, is that FSG, Ian Ayre and Brendan Rodgers deserve all the praise in the world for how they have handled this whole situation. For standing firm and refusing to sanction his departure to reaching the point we have today, I can't praise them enough. It's never easy dealing with this kind of situation but they've done it perfectly. It's been made easier of course by the fantastic attitude of the player since he was forced to stay, and he too deserves credit for that as lesser men would have thrown their toys out of the pram.
Suarez said a lot about loving the fans and the city etc, but he's said all that before and it didn't stop him trying to force through a move to Arsenal, so forgive me for not being so trusting this time. I want to believe him, but once bitten and all that.
I don't need to trust him though, whatever happens in the future will happen. I'm just delighted that I'm privileged enough to be able to watch him do his thing now, and for however long he remains here. He's the best I've seen, and I still can't get enough.
I’m made up to be perfectly honest. As soon as it became clear he was going nowhere after John W Henry impressively kyboshed any talk of a move to Arsenal, it became clear we were going to have to forgive the diminutive Uruguayan. It was also clear that such a thing was going to be easy to do – when you can get him on a pitch he’s a joy to watch.
When you make the sort of impact Suarez has this season it is far easier to forgive and forget. The comments about desperately wanting to sign for Arsenal seem like a lifetime ago, even if they really grated at the time and were very ungrateful and dismissive of the considerable support he has had from Liverpool during his time at the club. He has scored hatfuls of goals and the four goal display against Norwich is one of the most ridiculous things I’ve ever seen. He’s scored more goals this season than 7 or 8 teams have in total.
He’s also made great efforts to calm his game down. He’s had to, because the problem with Luis Suarez is that he’s only ever one moment away from disaster. But we know that and we’ve just come to accept it as part of who he is. He’ll give you 120% effort when he’s on the pitch, and I do think there are signs he has learned how best to channel this.
From the club’s point of view this is a no brainer. Not even the boneheads in the national press can now concoct a “Suarez to Arsenal” story in January with this new deal. It should end speculation until summer at the very least. And if speculation mounts there (and if we don’t make top 4 it will) then so be it, if someone pays his release clause then we lose the player but get paid Gareth Bale/Ronaldo sorts of money. It protects the club from any attempt at disrespectful lowballing, which is the game Arsenal tried last summer only for it to ultimately blow up in their faces spectacularly.
From a money side of things, that doesn’t bother me. The lad is easily the best player in this league and is for my money the third best player in the world at this moment in time. £170k a week is money well spent in that department, and so is £200k which is what it rises to in the summer. We’ve cut wages over the last two years or so to facilitate exactly this type of wage for this type of player. When you’ve got someone this good, pay them what it takes. Just get the deadbeats off your books, which we have now managed to do.
I’m delighted we’ve managed to secure the value for our biggest asset. If we get into the top 4 I think he’ll be here next season as well. But one thing is for sure – this is what’s best for business from a footballing point of view. I just hope he doesn’t spoil the feel good factor generated ahead of a tough festive period by doing something stupid.
He has had no backlash from the fans because he’s hit the ground running this season and the damage has long since been repaired. Pretty much everyone is delighted and rightly so, because Luis Suarez is a talent it is so easy to admire.