Kenny Dalglish was confronted yesterday with the first evidence that other clubs will seek to capitalise on Luis Suarez's uncertain future, as Paris Saint- Germain indicated through the French press that they may seek to sign the player this summer.
Dalglish had not discussed the Uruguayan striker since last Saturday's refusal to shake Patrice Evra's hand heaped embarrassment on the club in the wake of the racism case which led to Suarez's eight-match ban, and the manager declared: "I can only reiterate what we have said already. We have drawn a line under what happened and we just want Luis to concentrate on his football now."
Yesterday began with L'Equipe's confident front-page headline –PSG tend la main à Suarez [PSG extend a hand to Suarez] – and the assertion that preliminary contact had already been made between the club and the striker's agent. PSG, the Ligue 1 leaders, were disappointed that Carlos Tevez's pay demands ruled him out ofa deal with them last month and will be seeking marquee signings, with Champions League qualification looking probable.
Dalglish, who faces a far tougher task delivering the Champions League football Suarez will covet, must also seek to repair Liverpool's relationship with the player. Suarez's conduct on Saturday has been a source of profound anger in the Anfield boardroom, but Liverpool are also aware that they risk losing him if he feels alienated. Though Suarez has always declared Spain to be a nation in which he would like to play football, the appeal of the Qatari-backed PSG will have been enhanced by the comments yesterday of his Uruguayan national captain, Diego Lugano, who plays for PSG. Lugano risked reigniting the controversy Liverpool's three public apologies have sought to defuse by welcoming the Liverpool striker's refusal to shake Evra's hand.
Lugano said: "You have to have balls to do what Luis did on Saturday. He followed his principles. We live in a democracy, and if you do not want to greet someone, you do not do it and less so if that person has made you experience some bad moments."
Suarez apologised on Sunday for snubbing Evra's handshake – although he did not say sorry to the Frenchman – and Lugano said the whole controversy was nothing more than a "football argument". He said: "He has gone through a few months he did not deserve. Everyone in football knows it is a big circus. Take into account that England is historically a colonial country and racism is a sensitive subject, but we all know it has nothing to do with what happened between Luis and the Manchester United player. It's a football argument, and many false moralists and hypocrites have profited, and Luis is the only innocent party in this situation."
Mark Lawrenson, Dalglish's former team-mate and friend, has reiterated his belief that Suarez will leave this summer, though he said that Dalglish would not depart, despite the humiliating apology he had to make on Sunday for conduct "not befitting" a Liverpool manager.
Lawrenson told the Liverpool Post: "I would be extremely surprised if Kenny Dalglish walks away from the Liverpool job in the summer [though] I can understand why some people have been calling for him to step aside after attracting such heavy criticism for his handling of the Luis Suarez affair. Suarez may well have had enough and want to go somewhere where he believes he will be more appreciated. But, when you consider the support Liverpool have given him, I doubt he'll be more appreciated than at Anfield."