Luis Suarez has become the Premier League’s third highest-paid player with a new four-year deal which will deliver him a bonus if the club achieve a top-four finish and further add-ons based on the number of goals he scores this season.
The deal is believed to increase Suarez’s salary from £120,000 a week to around £200,000 – making him the highest-paid player in the club’s history and trailing only the Manchester United pair of Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie, who command £250,000 a week each. Manchester City’s Yaya Touré commands slightly less than £200,000 basic, with add-ons potentially taking him to £240,000.
The four-and-a-half-year deal will bring Suarez no bonus for winning the Premier League this season. But it is thought to include the exit clause that the 26-year-old’s representatives were frustrated to find missing this summer, when they discovered that the fine print of the player’s contract obligated Liverpool only to inform Suarez if a Champions League club bid for him but not to let him leave for that club.
The size of bid which would now force Liverpool to sell is not known – nor can it be made public by any party to the contract, as that would hand a potential bidder knowledge of how much they have to bid. Liverpool’s owners were furious this summer when the £40m figure in the previous contract was disclosed to Arsenal, allowing them to bid that sum plus £1.
The Professional Footballers’ Association encouraged Liverpool to introduce a concrete get-out clause at the earliest available opportunity, when it arbitrated in the dispute between player and club this summer. A contract at this time is in line with the hopes they were privately expressing back then.
The new deal is a tribute to Brendan Rodgers’ powers of man-management. Prouder and less flexible managers would have struggled to heap such praise and encouragement on Suarez, who effectively accused him of reneging on a promise by refusing to let him leave this summer.
But the strong bargaining position occupied by Suarez’s representatives – who were negotiating this week for the most prolific striker in Europe and a player Liverpool are desperate not to lose in January – will have allowed them to drive a hard bargain on the level of the get-out clause. They may well have been able to force the figure down from the previous £40m while securing the player his 67 per cent pay rise. Any get-out figure materially lower than £40m would effectively mean that Suarez is destined to leave this summer, if Liverpool fail to qualify for next season’s Champions League.
The deal reflects far more than a mercenary mind-set in the player, however. He and his representatives see what substantial strides Liverpool have taken this year under Rodgers. They feel that Liverpool are moving in the right direction. And he is a player for whom career achievements do count a great deal. With any prospect of Suarez leaving now on hold until the summer, the challenge for Rodgers will be to deliver that top-four finish. The principal owner, John W Henry, said in the summer that “it would be very disappointing” if Liverpool did not achieve that. When it was put to him that he sounded confident on the matter he replied: “I know a little more than I did two years ago.” There is now a lot more hinging on that finish than meeting the proprietor’s expectations.
The striker, who has scored 17 goals in 11 appearances this season and is in the side to face Cardiff today, said: “I am delighted to have agreed a new deal and have my future secured for the long term. We have some great players and the team is improving. I believe I can achieve the ambitions of winning trophies and playing at the very highest level with Liverpool. My aim is to help get us there as quickly as possible.
“The backing I have received from the fans has influenced my decision,” he added. “I am so proud to represent them and do my best for them every time I pull on the shirt. We have a special relationship; they have love for me and in return I love them.”