Barcelona close in on £70m Suarez deal

The Spanish giants are preparing to make a second bid for the Liverpool star that matches the release clause in his contract as his switch to Camp Nou reaches an advanced stage
By Wayne Veysey | Chief Correspondent

Barcelona are on the verge of completing the £70 million signing of Liverpool striker Luis Suarez after agreeing to meet the release clause in his contract, Goal can reveal.

15/2 Liverpool are 15/2 with Paddy Power to win the 2014-15 Premier League title
Talks between the two clubs over a straight cash deal are now at an advanced stage.

Senior officials from Liverpool and Barcelona met in London on Wednesday, with the Catalan club making an initial offer for Suarez of around £65m.

Barca have indicated to the Merseysiders they will table a higher, second bid that will meet the release fee stipulated in the contract Suarez signed last December. Goal understands that this figure is just over the £70m mark.

Liverpool are still pursuing Barcelona forward Alexis Sanchez but they are behind Arsenal in the race to land the Chile World Cup star, who is not part of the deal to take Suarez to Camp Nou.

Liverpool now expect to receive the third-highest transfer fee for a player at a Premier League club, beaten only by Gareth Bale's £86m move to Real Madrid last summer and Cristiano Ronaldo's £80m transfer from Manchester United to the reigning European champions in 2009.

The Merseysiders' American owners vowed to stand firm on Suarez's valuation after he had tarnished his image by biting Giorgio Chiellini and incurring a four-month ban from Fifa.

Fenway Sports Group were adamant during talks with Barca that Suarez could only leave if the valuation of his release fee was met.

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 at the end of 2013.

All parties now expect the 27-year-old to transfer to Camp Nou and line up alongside Lionel Messi and Neymar in a star-studded front line next season.

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.

This open display of affection for the player came just 24 hours before a meeting in London between Barca and Liverpool, who had no involvement in Suarez's apology.

"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 Zubizarreta 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."