Liverpool agree fee for Luis Suarez

Liverpool's long pursuit of Ajax forward Luis Suarez is finally over after they agreed a deal worth up to £22.8million with the Dutch club.

The 24-year-old has yet to pass a medical and agree personal terms but those two issues are unlikely to be stumbling blocks.

Having argued over the Uruguay international's value for some time Liverpool's owners Fenway Sports Group have sanctioned their first major signing since buying the club in October.

The deal is a real statement of intent from the Americans and will go a long way to proving to the club's major stars - such as the likes of Fernando Torres and Jose Reina who have been calling for significant investment in the squad - that they are serious about restoring Liverpool to Europe's elite.

The club yesterday revealed they had turned down a bid of £35million for Torres from Chelsea and had no intention of selling their star striker as they see him as a key part of their plan to turn things around.

In the wake of that bid there have been suggestions Torres was angling for a move to Stamford Bridge, but the player has never once spoken about leaving Anfield.

The furthest the 26-year-old has gone is in calling for the club to prove to him his long-term future lies at Anfield by bringing in better players to bolster the squad.

Even when speculation about an imminent bid from Chelsea was circulating when Torres returned to Merseyside in the summer as a World Cup winner, the Spain international was happy to stress his commitment to the club.

Suarez's imminent arrival, which will give Torres some much-needed support up front, is a key moment in FSG's short three-month reign.

Much had been made of their approach to transfers, with the long-term plan being to bring in players who represent greater value.

However, last week chairman Tom Werner admitted they would be prepared to spend heavily on a star name if it benefited the club's long-term interest.

At 24, Suarez fits the profile of the type of player they have in mind, and he has been prolific in the Eredivisie, scoring 111 goals in 159 matches since joining the Dutch giants in the summer of 2007.

Werner stressed there were funds in place for transfers and they did not have to sell anyone in order to balance the books, unlike under the previous regime of Tom Hicks and George Gillett when sales were sanctioned to pay off crippling interest repayments.

There is still the prospect of Chelsea returning with an improved bid before the close of the transfer window on Monday but the deal for Suarez gives Liverpool the ammunition they need to convince any players who may have doubted the commitment of the owners that the club has entered a new era.

And the prospect of being able to fit Suarez into an attacking formation which includes Torres, Steven Gerrard and Raul Meireles should also provide a significant boost.

Torres, for his part, has in recent matches shown that he appears close to rediscovering his best form after a difficult start to the season - Liverpool's worst since 1953/54 - when he cut a frustrated figure on the pitch.

Kenny Dalglish's arrival almost three weeks ago to replace Roy Hodgson as manager lifted all the squad but the Spaniard, along with Meireles, is one of the players who seems to have benefited the most.

Having scored just once in seven matches prior to the Scot's appointment he has hit three in his last four games - and that would have been four in four had he not had a goal wrongly ruled out for offside in Wednesday's win over Fulham.

But aside from his return to goalscoring form the 26-year-old has looked much sharper than at any other time this season.

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