Suárez held talks over his future with the Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers and the chief executive Ian Ayre on Thursday. The club's refusal to discuss how the meeting went has been interpreted by Arsenal as a positive sign for them. If Suárez had indicated any willingness to stay at Anfield, then Liverpool would have been expected to publicise it.
Arsenal's strategy when they made their second offer for Suárez of one pound over £40m on Tuesday was to put pressure on a clause in the Uruguayan's contract, which they were led to believe would permit him to open negotiations with them and, effectively, force the player's hand. They would love to see him agitate for the move, although a written transfer request may be too much for them to hope for.
Liverpool have refused to confirm whether Suárez asked to speak to Arsenal in the talks with Rodgers and Ayre since the £40,000,001 offer was received and rejected. However, they remain adamant that the disputed clause in Suárez's contract does not allow him to meet or open negotiations with Arsenal now that a bid of more than £40m has been made.
Liverpool have not granted Suárez permission to speak to Arsenal officials. The clause in the contract he signed last August, they insist, entitles Suárez to be informed of any bid over £40m and for Liverpool to enter into discussions over his transfer should they wish to do so.
Arsenal, whose opening offer for Suárez was worth £30m plus £5m in add-ons, are now ready to go higher, as they seek what would be a stunning coup. They have never previously paid more than £15m for a player. They are aware, though, that Liverpool will not countenance Suárez's sale unless there is a bid of more than £50m. Suárez scored 30 goals in Rodgers' debut season in charge and Liverpool's hopes of returning to the Champions League rest on him.
Real Madrid continue to lurk in the background, and they have indicated to Suárez's representatives that they have an interest in signing him. Their bank balance has been boosted by the £32m that they received from Napoli for the striker Gonzalo Higuaín, who was previously a target for Arsenal.
Arsenal, though, believe that they are in the driving seat for Suárez as Real are preoccupied by their pursuit of the Tottenham Hotspur winger Gareth Bale. Tottenham maintain that Bale is not for sale. Suárez is expected to play some part in Liverpool's friendly against Thailand in Bangkok on Sunday.
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010
image: © wonker