The Reds will stand their ground for a second consecutive summer as the Catalan side pursues the striker, with the two clubs rumoured to be holding talks in London on WednesdayBy Wayne Veysey | Chief Correspondent
Liverpool will refuse to allow Luis Suarez to join Barcelona for less than the fee stipulated in his release clause, Goal understands.
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The Merseysiders' American owners have vowed to play hardball with their prize asset for a second consecutive summer amid reports that a delegation from Camp Nou will meet Liverpool chief executive Ian Ayre in London on Wednesday for an opening round of talks over the 27-year-old.
Barcelona are expected to table a substantial bid for Suarez even though he has been banned for four months by Fifa for biting Giorgio Chiellini.
Liverpool have not denied that, as revealed by Goal, a release fee was inserted in the new £225,000-a-week contract that Suarez signed last December.
The precise figure of the release clause, which can only be triggered by a non-English club, is unknown but sources anticipate it is between £60-80 million.
Any hope Barca might have had of landing Suarez for a cut-price fee due to his ban and tarnished image will be dashed by the stance of Liverpool owners Fenway Sports Group (FSG).
Privately, FSG are said to be adamant that Suarez can only leave if the valuation of his release fee is met.
Should this figure not be matched, Liverpool plan to hold on to Suarez at least until January, even though he will miss the first two-and-a-half months of next season.
A repeat of a saga similar to last summer, when Suarez and his agent Pere Guardiola spent months trying to engineer a move to Arsenal, could now be in store as Liverpool refuse to grant their star player an easy exit.
Barca went public with their interest in the Uruguayan on Tuesday when sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta praised "humble" Suarez for apologising via Twitter for biting Chiellini.
Liverpool, who had no involvement in Suarez's apology, will have also been unimpressed by Zubizarreta speaking so openly of the striker's ability on the pitch.
"Everyone knows that Luis is an excellent player, everyone knows last season he played in various positions in attack, but everyone also knows that he is a Liverpool player," the sporting director said.
"Regardless of whether the club signs him or not, his quality is unquestionable. He has shown a lot of quality with Uruguay and scored more than 30 goals with Liverpool, so he has the necessary quality to play for Barca."
Barcelona will sell Alexis Sanchez, possibly to one of his Premier League suitors, to free up space in their front line and on their wage bill for Suarez.
The Uruguayan's situation is also being monitored by the Catalan club's great rivals Real Madrid.