Liverpool's principal owner described the prospect of allowing Suárez to join Arsenal as "ludicrous" as he went on the offensive following the player's decision to air his grievances to the Guardian on Tuesday. The Uruguay international has been accused of showing "total disrespect" by Brendan Rodgers and ordered to train away from the first-team squad. Rodgers has his employer's backing to marginalise Suárez for the foreseeable future, in the absence of an apology from the player for the public outburst.
Suárez's agitation for a transfer, Arsenal's knowledge of a £40m clause in the 26-year-old's contract and submission of a £40,000,001 bid has only hardened Liverpool's resolve not to sell their prize asset. Henry said he told Ivan Gazidis, the Arsenal chief executive, that Liverpool would not entertain a bid from them, a club they perceive as a rival for Champions League qualification before offers of £35m and £40,000,001 were made.
Liverpool's principal owner has also told Suárez and his agent, Pere Guardiola, that their attempts to force a transfer have arrived too late in this transfer window. "We are not going to sell Luis," said Henry, on a brief visit to Liverpool. "For all the top clubs it's extremely important [not to sell to a rival] but especially for Liverpool because we're not in Europe this year and have not been in the Champions League for a while. To sell to a rival for those positions, or one of them, would be ludicrous. Liverpool needs to be playing in Europe. It needs to be playing in the Champions League. That's what Liverpool football club is about."
Liverpool may yet face a Premier League arbitration hearing or legal challenge from Suárez over a disputed clause in his contract that the PFA chief executive, Gordon Taylor, concedes "does not say the club has to sell". But even the threat of a mutinous Suárez and the prospect of his value diminishing next season will not alter Henry's stance.
"I'm unequivocal that we won't sell to Arsenal, whatever the bid is," he said. "I have not said it to Stan [Kroenke, Arsenal's majority shareholder] but I had a personal conversation with others at Arsenal and told him [Gazidis] we would not sell to Arsenal."
Only the Gunners have bid for a striker who scored 30 goals last season but is suspended for the first six matches of the new campaign for biting the Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic. Suárez has made no secret of his preference for a move to Real Madrid but an approach from the Spanish club would not succeed at this late stage, according to Henry.
"He won't be sold even if a foreign club comes in because we do not have time to sign a suitable replacement," he said. "It's a football reason. It's not about finances. That's why at this point, so late in the window, with everyone who's already moved or isn't moving, we can't replace him. So for football reasons we can't sell, and especially to Arsenal."
Liverpool informed Suárez and Guardiola that any transfer would have to be agreed early in this transfer window to allow Rodgers time to spend the fee. "We made that clear early-on," confirmed Henry, who believes Suárez is misguided in his reasons for wishing to join Arsenal. He said: "Players usually want to win. They want to go, generally in any sport, where they can win. That's why I think this particular episode is misguided. We've won more trophies than Arsenal, but I really don't want to get into that."
Henry is adamant Liverpool have ended doubts over Suárez's future with less than four weeks of the transfer window remaining. "I think the issue has been resolved now," he said. "We have said 'no'. Luis will be a Liverpool player on September 3 [the day after the transfer window closes]." But he concedes that the dispute between Rodgers and Suárez may take longer to repair, with the striker accusing the manager of broken promises and being ostracised as a result.
Asked if he could see Suárez playing for Liverpool again, Henry responded: "That's going to be between the manager and player. The manager is upset, as he should be, the supporters are upset, Luis is, but that's going to be between those two and his team-mates. We need Luis. Hopefully this will pass.
"If you look at the full context of what's happened here it's jarring to all our supporters. The club has stood by him so strongly at a time when you could question whether the club should have stood by him [over the Patrice Evra racism controversy], but they did. I wouldn't say we regret that. The manager and his team-mates were solidly behind him. They were out on the field that day. So we felt they knew more about what occurred than we did, on the field."
The Boston Red Sox owner once described the football industry as "the wild west" in comparison to baseball and despite his disgust at how football transfers are conducted, he sees no point in lodging a formal complaint against Arsenal. "How does a club who doesn't have permission to speak with your player see his contract? It should have been confidential," Henry said. "Unfortunately it's the way it works in football. People don't speak about it publicly but that's the way it's run. It's how things are done. I don't think there's a point because it just seems to happen everywhere. It's rotten."
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