Liverpool agree to sell Suarez to Barca
Liverpool have confirmed that an agreement has been reached with Barcelona for the transfer of Luis Suarez even though the troubled striker is serving a four-month ban for biting an opponent.
Suarez, 27, is set to sign a five-year contract with the Spanish club and will travel to the Catalan city for a physical next week, while the fee is reported to be around 80 million euros.
The Uruguay international had been heavily linked with a move to Barca ever since he was banned by FIFA from all football-related activity for four months after biting Italy's Giorgio Chiellini during a group-stage match at the World Cup.
Despite having a superb campaign last season -- winning both the PFA Players' Player of the Year and Football Writers' Player of the Year awards -- Suarez's reputation grew even more controversial after a suspension for biting an opponent for a third time in his career.
Liverpool released an official statement on Friday announcing that the former Ajax man will depart the club for Barca this summer.
LUIS SUAREZ 2013-14 SEASON IN NUMBERS
• 31 - Premier League goals, winning the Golden Boot.
• 12 - Most assists in the Premier League.
• 24 - Scored the most goals from inside the box.
• 4 - Scored the most goals from counterattacks.
• 9 - Had the most shots that hit the woodwork.
• 3 - Most penalties won in the Premier League.
• 237 - Attempted more dribbles than any other player.
The statement read: "Liverpool Football Club today issued the following statement in relation to the future of Luis Suarez.
"Liverpool FC confirms that Luis Suarez will be leaving the club after a transfer agreement was reached with FC Barcelona. The player now has permission to complete the usual formalities, which will then conclude the transfer.
"We would like to thank Luis for his contribution and the role he played in helping bring Champions League football back to Anfield.
"Everyone at Liverpool Football Club wishes Luis and his family well for the future."
The statement read: "FC Barcelona and Liverpool FC have reached an agreement for the transfer of Luis Suarez.
"The Uruguayan will be travelling to Barcelona next week for a medical, to sign his five-year contract and to be officially presented to the media and fans as an FC Barcelona player."
Suarez, who joined Liverpool in 2011 from Ajax, scored 31 goals last season to inspire Liverpool to a second-place Premier League finish and a return to Champions League football.
The striker told the club's official website that he is sad to be leaving but looks forward to embarking on a new chapter in his career.
"It is with a heavy heart that I leave Liverpool for a new life and new challenges in Spain. Both me and my family have fallen in love with this club and with the city," he said.
"But most of all I have fallen in love with the incredible fans. You have always supported me and we, as a family, will never forget it, we will always be Liverpool supporters.
"I hope you can all understand why I have made this decision. This club did all they could to get me to stay, but playing and living in Spain, where my wife's family live, is a lifelong dream and ambition. I believe now the timing is right.
LUIS SUAREZ BITE STORM
- FIFA bans Luis Suarez for four months
- PL chief: Suarez an accident waiting to happen
- No 'bite clause' in Suarez's Barca contract
- Toe Poke: Fan gets dodgy Suarez tattoo
- Thompson: Portrait of a serial winner
- Brewin: No sympathy for Luis Suarez
- Thompson: Uruguay comes to Suarez defence
- Marcotti: Suarez in another bite storm
"I wish Brendan Rodgers and the team well for the future. The club is in great hands and I'm sure will be successful again next season.
"I am very proud I have played my part in helping to return Liverpool to the elite of the Premier League and in particular back into the Champions League.
"Thank you again for some great moments and memories. You'll Never Walk Alone."
Suarez later posted a letter from him and his family on his official Twitter account, thanking the club for standing by him in "difficult times''.
Rodgers, Liverpool's manager, added: "Luis is a very special talent and I thank him for the role he has played in the team in the past two years, during my time at Liverpool. I think he would be the first to accept he has improved as a player over that period, along with the team and has benefited from being here, as we have benefited from him.
"The club have done all they can over a sustained period of time to try to keep Luis at Liverpool. It is with great reluctance and following lengthy discussions we have eventually agreed to his wishes to move to Spain for new experiences and challenges. We wish him and his young family well; we will always consider them to be friends.
"We are focused on the future, as we strive to continue with the progress we have made and build on last season's excellent Premier League campaign. I am confident we will improve the team further and will be stronger for this coming season, when we will be competing on all fronts; domestically and in the greatest club competition in the world, the Champions League.
"If there is one thing the history of this great club teaches us, it is that Liverpool FC is bigger than any individual. I hope our supporters continue to dream and believe that we are moving forward and with continued improvement and progression, together we will bring the success we all crave and deserve."
Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard thanked Suarez on his official Instagram account for his contribution to the club and said he hoped the striker does well at Barcelona.
He wrote: "On an emotional day for me would just like to say what a pleasure it has been playing with an amazing talent such as Luis.
"I would like to thank him for his outstanding contribution on the pitch during his time @liverpoolfc and to wish him and his family all the best on his new adventure in Spain. #lfclegend"
With FIFA rejecting Suarez's appeal of his ban on Thursday, the striker is set to miss 18 fixtures for Barcelona before he will be available to make his debut on Oct. 25.
Suarez is now expected to ask the Court of Arbitration for Sport to freeze his sanctions during his appeal process.
If granted, Suarez would be allowed to train and play with Barca until a final verdict is reached, likely in several months.
The potential games he will currently miss include five friendlies for the team managed now by Luis Enrique from July 19-Aug. 18 (vs. Recreativo, Nice, Napoli, Helsinki and Mexican side Leon) and 13 official matches with three Champions League dates, one Copa del Rey fixture and nine La Liga matches. The Spanish domestic season starts on Aug. 24.
While playing for Ajax, Suarez was given a seven-match suspension for biting PSV Eindhoven midfielder Otman Bakkal during a Dutch Eredivisie game in November 2010. The striker did not play for Ajax again, completing a 22.5 million pounds move to Liverpool in January 2011.
He then received an eight-match ban for racially abusing Manchester United left-back Patrice Evra during a Premier League match at Anfield in October 2011, and caused further controversy by refusing to shake the France international's hand before the return fixture the following February, for which he subsequently apologised.
Suarez looked to have played his final match for Liverpool when he was given a 10-game domestic suspension for biting Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic during a 2-2 Premier League draw at Anfield in April 2013.
The striker gave a series of interviews that summer declaring that he wanted to leave Anfield, but Liverpool's principal owner John W. Henry responded by insisting that he would not be sold.
Despite reports of interest from Real Madrid, the only offers for Suarez last summer came from Arsenal, which had two bids rejected. One was for 40,000,001 pounds, which the Gunners wrongly believed would trigger a release clause in his contract, which at the time ran until 2016. Liverpool maintained there was no such clause.
Suarez ended up staying at Anfield and even signed a new contract running through to 2018. That deal did have a release clause written in, and Barcelona's willingness to meet it means that the striker will move on.