LONDON (Reuters) – Liverpool striker Luis Suarez will remain at Anfield next season, according to the club’s managing director Ian Ayre, who has dismissed quotes from the Uruguayan saying he would consider offers from Champions League clubs.
According to British media reports, the 26-year-old, who is currently on international duty, said he was very happy at Anfield but if a club "with more prospects of competing in international club competition games" approached him, "they are very welcome".
His comments are likely to interest Europe’s elite clubs and could spark a bidding war for the player who currently tops the Premier League scoring charts with 22 goals this season in an under-performing Liverpool team.
Ayre, however, said the Uruguayan’s comments "may have been a bit lost in translation" and when asked by the BBC if he was 100 percent confident of keeping hold of Suarez, replied: "Yes, absolutely."
He added: "We love Luis being at Liverpool, he loves being at Liverpool and we fully expect him to be at Liverpool next season."
Suarez, who moved to Anfield for 22.7 million pounds ($34.35 million) from Ajax Amsterdam in 2011, signed a new long-term deal with Liverpool last year and would likely command a fee that would scare off all but Europe’s biggest spenders.
Suarez’s agent is Pere Guardiola, the brother of soon-to-be installed Bayern Munich coach Pep, which has led to inevitable media speculation that the player could be tempted to quit England for Germany.
Liverpool’s prolonged absence from Europe’s money-spinning Champions League, which will almost certainly stretch to four years after the current campaign, is likely to leave them vulnerable to a close-season approach.
Suarez, however, has never expressed a desire to leave the club who stood by him when he became embroiled in an ugly racism scandal that resulted in an eight-match ban after he was found guilty of abusing Manchester United’s Patrice Evra last season.
"I am very happy at Liverpool but you never know in football," Suarez was quoted as saying by the Liverpool Echo ahead of Uruguay’s World Cup qualifier with Paraguay on Friday.
"A player’s ambition is always there, the ambition of wanting to play in elite teams is always there. I’m in a world-class team, an elite team like Liverpool. We have to realise we have a new manager who is imposing a philosophy and a way of playing that the players are adapting to as best we can. We hope it will bear fruit next year."
Liverpool, seventh in the standings, have slipped out of the running for the Champions League spots, trailing fourth-placed Tottenham Hotspur by nine points with eight games to play, but still have a slim chance of qualifying for the Europa League.
(Reporting by Toby Davis; Editing by John Mehaffey)
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