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“Arsenal Triggered His Buy-Out Clause”
Liverpool owner John Henry has sensationally confirmed that Arsenal did in fact trigger a clause in the contract of Luis Suarez last summer, but claims the Merseysiders chose to ignore it.
Arsenal’s pursuit of Suarez was the long-running story which dominated much of the summer window. Our now infamous £40m + £1 bid was widely mocked by Liverpool, pundits, journalists and rival fans after it was ‘rejected’ out of hand with the Anfield club insisting they weren’t going to sell.
Suarez went to the newspapers and expressed his desire to leave, claiming that Liverpool had to sell him not only because of the clause, but because they had given him his word they would sell if they failed to make the top four.
There was even talk of the striker taking Liverpool to court if they didn’t hold up their end of the bargain, but Liverpool dug their heels in and Arsenal soon became the laughing stock for apparently trying to trigger a clause that didn’t even exist.
Well, it turns out we were well within our rights to table a £40m + £1 bid as it DID trigger a valid clause in the strikers contract, but Liverpool owner John Henry claims the club chose to ignore it and refuse to sell, as players contracts don’t seem to mean a lot in the world of football.
Henry made the revelation speaking at MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, when he said:
“Luis Suarez is the top scorer in the English Premier League which is arguably the top soccer league in the world,”
“And he had a buy-out clause – I don’t know what degree I should go into this – but he had a buy-out clause of £40million – more than 60 million (US) dollars. So Arsenal, one of our prime rivals this year… they offered £40million and one pound for him and triggered his buy-out clause.
“But what we’ve found over the years is that contracts don’t seem to mean a lot in England – actually not in England, in world football. It doesn’t matter how long a player’s contract is, he can decide he’s leaving.
“We sold Fernando Torres for £50million. We didn’t want to sell but we were forced to.
“For the first time (with Suarez) we took the position that we weren’t selling.
“Since apparently these contracts don’t seem to hold, we took the position we’re just not selling and it’s been great for Luis, it’s been great for us, and what will happen at the end of year… I think we”re going to make Champions League and we have a small chance of winning the Premier League this year.
“We have three gentlemen up front: Suarez, (Raheem) Sterling and (Daniel) Sturridge. Those three are young, and I think Luis and those three could be together for a long time.”
So basically, Suarez had a release clause, we triggered it, but Liverpool refused to sell anyway and took the risk that Arsenal and/or the player wouldn’t take them to court. Obviously the gamble paid off and now everything looks rosy for them, but it’s a disgusting way to treat a player and it also undermines a legally binding contract. What’s to stop all clubs doing this now?
The fact is, Liverpool probably knew only too well that Arsenal wouldn’t bother taking them through an expensive legal battle as it would take months to resolve. Suarez would also have had to have gone on strike, which was very unlikely to happen, particularly in a World Cup year.
So really, Liverpool played it very well. But, it’s set a dangerous precedent and I wouldn’t be surprised if we see other clubs refusing to adhere to the terms of a buy-out clause in future. In fact, there were rumours that Dnipro’s president refused to sign off the paper-work on Liverpool’s proposed move for Yevhen Konoplyanka in January, despite the club triggering his €15m release clause. I hope that’s true, karma’s a bitch ain’t it?