The Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has declared that the sale of Luis Suarez is “not even a discussion point” – though there appears to be no prospect of Roberto Mancini approaching his board to ask Manchester City to buy the player.
Suarez pledged his own commitment to Liverpool last night, stating that, "now I'm here, it's all about enjoying myself and trying to be here for as many years as I can, because I'm at a club where I'm very happy."
City will make no move for him, in any case. The club cannot entirely account for who might claim to be speaking for Roberto Mancini, amid suggestions that the manager wants to buy Suarez. But it seems unlikely that he would press the new Spanish axis at the top of the club – chief executive Ferran Soriano and sporting director Txiki Begiristain – to lay out the £20m-a-year needed in each of the next four years to bring Suarez to the Etihad. Begiristain has already spent a substantial amount of time with Mancini as part of the fact-finding work which will precede any venture into the transfer market.
Though Mancini has been characterized as unwilling to accept the strictures imposed on spending by Uefa's financial fair play (FFP) legislation, he is more realistic than has been widely appreciated on what represents good value for the club. The purchase of Suarez would certainly blow a major hole in the club's attempts to comply with FFP and thus secure a license to play European football. If the player were purchased for £40m on a four-year deal, the club would take a £10m hit each year for four years on its profit and loss account – a figure which would count towards financial fair play calculations. But it is the player's wages which would deliver the biggest blow to the club's attempts to draw closer to the £18m figure. If Suarez were to command a salary of £1m a month, less than City's Carlos Tevez but in line with others among the game's best-paid players, that would take the annual hit to the club up to £22m a year, including wages and transfer fee.
Rodgers, who has made Stewart Downing aware of the fact that he will make him available in the January transfer window, said he had no fear that Suarez would be affected by talk of City interest. "We want to continue to build the group around Luis. We are in the very early stages of trying to form something at the club and Luis is an integral part of that," the manager said.
Liverpool will seek a straight transfer for Downing, whose promising performances for Liverpool, such as last season's League Cup final against Cardiff City, have been as few and far between as his two goals. Manchester City are about to announce losses in excess of £100m for the 2011-12 season, the first of Uefa's first two-year monitoring period, during which the club is permitted to lose no more than £18m a year.
Rodgers admitted 17-year-old Raheem Sterling's ascent to full international status had surprised him. "You just never know with young players. I think the biggest thing you can do with kids is give them a chance – so long as they are showing on a daily basis they are worthy of that opportunity."