Luis Suarez has become the Premier League’s third highest-paid player with a new four-year deal which will deliver him a bonus if the club achieve a top-four finish.
The deal is believed to increase Suarez’s salary from £120,000 (Dh720,000) a week to around £200,000 (Dh1.2m) – making him the highest-paid player in the club’s history and trailing only the Manchester United pair of Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie, who command £250,000 (Dh1.5m) a week each.
Manchester City’s Yaya Tour commands slightly less than £200,000 basic, with add-ons potentially taking him to £240,000 (Dh1.4m). The four-and-a-half-year deal will bring Suarez no bonus for winning the league this season.
But it is thought to include the exit clause that the 26-year-old’s representatives were frustrated to find missing this summer, when they discovered that the fine print of the player’s contract obligated Liverpool only to inform Suarez if a Champions League club bid for him but not to let him leave for that club.
The size of bid which would now force Liverpool to sell is not known – nor can it be made public by any party to the contract, as that would hand a potential bidder knowledge of how much they have to bid.
The new deal is a tribute to Brendan Rodgers’ powers of manmanagement. Prouder and less flexible managers would have struggled to heap such praise and encouragement on Suarez, who effectively accused him of reneging on a promise by refusing to let him leave this summer.
But the strong bargaining position occupied by Suarez’s representatives – who were negotiating this week for the most prolific striker in Europe – will have allowed them to drive a hard bargain on the level of the get-out clause.
The deal reflects far more than a mercenary mind-set in the player, however. He and his representatives see what substantial strides Liverpool have taken this year under Rodgers and feel that Liverpool are moving in the right direction.
The striker, who has scored 17 goals in 11 appearances this season and is in the side to face Cardiff today, said: “I am delighted to have agreed a new deal and have my future secured for the long term.
“We have some great players and the team is improving. I believe I can achieve the ambitions of winning trophies and playing at the very highest level with Liverpool.”
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Luis Suarez’s decision to sign a new four-and-a-half year deal at Liverpool is a big boost for the club’s fans but does it really mean he will stay at Anfield for the next four seasons or is it just a way of ensuring his value stays high on the international transfer market?
Andy Gray and Richard Keys, who front Al Jazeera Sport’s English Premier League television coverage give their verdict:
Andy Gray: If Suarez carries on playing the way he is every major club in Europe is going to want him and there is no way he is not going to be interested if the big boys come calling.
I hope this new deal is an indication that he will stay but I think Liverpool will be tested in the next transfer window in January. Don’t forget Suarez is eligible to play in the Champions League for anybody because he hasn’t played in Europe this season.
He’s scoring for fun and if Real, Barcelona, Bayern Munich or even Arsenal show interest who is to say the right amount of money wouldn’t tempt Liverpool to sell?
Look at what happened with Cristiano Ronaldo when he agreed a new deal for Manchester United. He signed for Real Madrid just months later. It might not look good if a player can put pen to paper on a contract one month and leave the next but signing a new deal is a lot to do with keeping a player’s price up.
That is exactly what happened with Ronaldo. His contract was running down so United got him to sign a new one and suddenly his price is back up to £70m or £80m.
Liverpool have always said everyone has a price and if the right offer came in it might be hard for them to say no.
Liverpool play Cardiff today where we see another example of a new owner coming in and inheriting a manager. New owners always want their own man in charge so Malky Mackay is going to lose his job one way or the other. He will walk away with his reputation intact but today I can see Liverpool taking them apart. 3-0.
Richard Keys: If Suarez is still at Liverpool in four years time I will be really, really surprised. If Madrid come knocking I don’t care where you are or how happy you supposedly are you are going to sit up and listen.
If Suarez goes to the World Cup and does well and the giants of Europe come calling again and Liverpool finish fifth what do you think he is going to want to do?
That’s why there is an exit clause in this contract which will give him a get out if Liverpool don’t make the Champions League. I see in his statement yesterday he says he thinks he can achieve all he wants to at Liverpool.
It’s just not possible for him to do that. If they won the title this year that would be beyond their wildest expectations but I can’t see that happening.
And I can’t see this Liverpool sustaining a credible challenge for the Champions League for the next three to five years. Of course he is going to say all the things the fans want to hear but let’s wait and see what happens because I don’t think he will see out half of this deal.
However, putting pen to paper will give the team a boost as they prepare to face Cardiff where I fully expect them to win by a big margin, and I wouldn’t rule out a Suarez hat-trick.
Whatever Mackay tries today, in what looks like being his last game in charge, is mission impossible because the club is in a mess. I just hope that when Malky goes they have somebody good to replace him. 4-0.
ARSENAL v CHELSEA
AG: Chelsea normally go to Arsenal and do well but I can’t see that happening on Monday. They have kept just two clean sheets since the middle of September and that’s not good enough.
Jose Mourinho knows Chelsea are too easy to score against and it is clear he wants to see some new blood at the club.
This is an Arsenal side which has goals in them from all over the pitch and the 6-3 defeat at Manchester City won’t have any knock-on effects. 2-1 home win.
RK: I think there is a power struggle going on behind the scenes at Chelsea over the way they should be playing their football and Mourinho is not happy. Despite this, Chelsea remain my favourites to win the title and because Arsenal have hit the stickiest period of their season so far I’m going 1-1.
MAN UNITED v WEST HAM
AG: United all day long. West Ham, despite beating Spurs in midweek, are still poor and the pressure remains on Sam Allardyce. A comfortable 2-0 win for the Reds who are beginning to look more like the United we know.
RK: West Ham reaching the League Cup semi-finals in midweek was special to them but in the bigger scheme of things it doesn’t make any difference to their season and I think Allardyce will be the next to get the boot. I don’t think United have improved much but they are the better side. 3-0.
CRYSTAL PALACE v NEWCASTLE
AG: Although Newcastle are sitting in the top six they are still up and down as a team – good one week, poor the next. Tony Pulis has given Palace a new belief which will make them difficult to beat at home. 1-1.
RK: Pulis has done a great job of turning things around at Palace and I now think they will stay up because of the change of attitude. With Newcastle you never know what to expect. If all their players turn it on then they could win 5-1 but they won’t because it’s cold and away from home. 1-0 Palace win.
FULHAM v MAN CITY
AG: City will miss the injured Sergio Aguero but they have the depth of squad to cope with it with Edin Dzeko or Stevan Jovetic, when he is fit, to play alongside Alvaro Negredo or they can play Negredo up front on his own with David Silva and Samir Nasri just behind him. They have so many good options and will have too much pace and power for Fulham. 3-1.
RK: Fulham might be slightly better with their new manager but there are too many tired, old legs. City will score as many as they want. A very comfortable 2-0 win.
STOKE v ASTON VILLA
AG: If Stoke win this they will jump above Villa which will act as an incentive. They won’t have lost too much confidence after being beaten by Man United in atrocious conditions in midweek and although Villa will try and hit Stoke on the break I think Mark Hughes’ team will win 1-0.
RK: Stoke’s home form has improved recently and Villa without the firepower of Christian Benteke, who seems to have lost the plot completely, are a very poor team. Stoke 2-0.
SUNDERLAND v NORWICH
AG: Norwich have got themselves just above the relegation zone but are still in trouble. Sunderland have been playing well without getting the results they deserve but I think the boost of knocking Chelsea out of the League Cup will inspire them. 2-1.
RK: I know I said Sunderland were heading for relegation a few weeks ago but I think Gus Poyet has got them looking a lot better. Sunderland deserve to be in the Premier League and I can’t say the same about Norwich. 3-0 home win.
WEST BROM v HULL CITY
AG: West Brom will want to respond to the sacking of Steve Clarke as manager and I think they will be ready to go. Hull struggle away from home so I’ll say 2-0.
RK: West Brom are a shambles. Hull have looked a solid unit over the past few weeks and although they have struggled a bit on the road I think there will be a reaction to the sacking of Clarke which will give Hull the edge. 1-0 away win.
SOUTHAMPTON v TOTTENHAM
AG: The timing of Andre Villas-Boas’s sacking is strange. I know they got hammered twice but sometimes you have to take results like that and move on.
If there was someone lined up to come straight in then fine, but it looks like that’s not the case and they have left themselves in limbo which could be costly in terms of staying in touch with the top four which is why Spurs need to win this one.
Southampton also need the points after slipping away a bit. They are a force at home and I think they will beat a Spurs side still recovering from that sacking.
RK: I reckon Villas-Boas will be glad to be out of Spurs and my money is on Fabio Capello to take over but for the moment they lack a bit of direction. I think they are there for the taking and Southampton will take advantage. 3-0.
SWANSEA v EVERTON
AG: Swansea are indifferent this season but because this is at home I think Everton might struggle to take all three points so I’m going for a 1-1 draw.
RK: Michu is suffering second-season syndrome at Swansea and has been found out. Everton are flying and on paper you would expect them to win but I fancy Swansea to raise their game a bit. 2-2.
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers is confident that Luis Suarez's contract extension "will take care of itself".
It was reported on Wednesday that the Reds managing director, Ian Ayre, had begun preliminary talks with the Uruguayan player's agent, with the hope the club could tie their star striker down to a new deal.
The contract extension is speculated to make Suarez the best paid player in Liverpool history, with an offer of around £200,000 per week believed to be in the offing.
Rodgers insists that all discussions will remain private, however he is hopeful that he can build the team around the 26-year-old.
"There's nothing to report on that [the Suarez contract extension]. Contractually, with any players, it is private so at the minute he is just focusing on his football," said the Liverpool boss.
"We're just concentrating on the football, on performance levels and improving.
"I think it will all take care of itself.
"There's no rush at this moment in time, he's a player we want to keep here and build a team around in the next couple of years."
Suarez has been the Merseyside club's standout performer this season, netting 17 goals in 12 games.
Rodgers was a quick to point out that the former Ajax striker's attitude, both on and off the pitch, has impressed him just as much as his goal scoring exploits.
Suarez captained Liverpool in their 5-0 win over Tottenham on Sunday, a indication of just how highly regarded the Uruguayan is by the club.
"He is maturing, accepting the role and responsibility I've given him at the club," said Rodgers.
"He is one of the pillars of the group, for me.
"He's in a good place and long may it continue. He is a humble man with a unique desire to win games.
"If you judge him on his football, he is up there with the world's best."