Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers has expressed disappointment over the behavior of star striker Luis Suarez.
Rodgers' remarks suggested he believes Suarez's recent comments do not reflect the 'Liverpool way,' and he vowed to deal with any player who steps out of line.
The Uruguayan has threatened to hand in a transfer request if he is not sold, insisting in a newspaper interview he has a clause in his contract allowing him to leave to join a Champions League club for £40million.
Arsenal have offered £40million, plus an extra £1, but Liverpool are adamant no such buy-out clause exists in Suarez's contract and, speaking after the 4-1 friendly win over Valerenga, Rodgers addressed his star player's handling of the situation.
Rodgers said, according to official club website www.liverpoolfc.com: "My conversations with players will always remain private. I'll never disclose any conversation between a player and I. In terms of the remarks that were made, this is a football club that has always worked a certain way. The Liverpool way is all about a club with ambition, a club that strives to be the very best, a club that is about commitment - that means that everyone is committed to the cause of fighting for the shirt. It's also about dignity and being dignified in how you speak about the club, on and off the field, and it's about unity.
"Those are the four values that run through my mind when I think about Liverpool. Those are the values we will always retain. If anyone steps outside of that standard, I will deal with it. That's something that we'll do. It means that we have a standard at Liverpool that I will fight for my life to retain. There will never be any player or person bigger than the club."
While Suarez believes there is a clause in his contract which allows him to leave, Liverpool have confidence in their position.
They have always maintained the £40million mark was the point at which they had to inform the player of an approach and was the basis for the beginning of negotiations should they wish to sell.
Suarez has been the center of much controversy since joining the Reds from Ajax in January 2011, serving a ban for racially abusing Manchester United's Patrice Evra and, more recently, being banned again for biting Chelsea's Branislav Ivanovic. And the club has backed Suarez throughout his trials and tribulations at Anfield, with Rodgers being particularly vociferous in his defense in the past.
"Professionally, Luis Suarez has given me everything since I came into the football club, but there is obviously a way in which you have to speak," Rodgers added tonight. "This is a club that has offered Luis Suarez the utmost respect since the day he walked through the door. That's something that over the course of the coming weeks you need to have when you work for Liverpool Football Club. You've got supporters and players that have given Luis Suarez absolutely everything - they backed him to the hilt. Even at the weekend, when we had Steven Gerrard's testimonial game, the supporters raised the roof for him. That's something that I will always fight to retain at the football club, because that is what Liverpool is about - respect, humility and real dignity."
Suarez's latest outburst came yesterday when, in an interview with the Daily Telegraph and the Guardian, he expressed his desire to leave in search of Champions League football. While the contractual ins-and-outs may eventually need a lawyer to unwrangle, it is clear that Suarez believes that, at the very least, he has a gentleman's agreement with Rodgers.
"Last year I had the opportunity to move to a big European club and I stayed on the understanding that if we failed to qualify for the Champions League the following season I'd be allowed to go," he said. "I spoke with Brendan Rodgers several times and he told me, 'Stay another season, and you have my word if we don't make it then I will personally make sure that you can leave'.
"I gave absolutely everything last season but it was not enough to give us a top-four finish - now all I want is for Liverpool to honor our agreement. They gave me their word a year ago and now I want them to honor that. I have the club's word and we have the written contract and we are happy to take this to the Premier League for them to decide the case, but I do not want it to come to that. We have the backing of the PFA (Professional Footballers' Association)."
But PFA chief executive Gordon Taylor believes ambiguity in Suarez's contract means success via legal recourse is far from guaranteed.
"If you are going to have a supposed buy-out clause it should be that, but it is different as it says if there is no qualification for the Champions League and if there is a minimum offer of £40million then the parties will get around the table to discuss things but it does not say the club has to sell," he said. "It quite clearly states £40million is a minimum offer for discussions but it becomes really difficult with such clauses.
"There is a 'good faith' clause in relation to serious discussions but I can't say it is cast-iron buy-out clause. Luis is one of our members and we want to be supportive, however, he may well have thought such an offer would trigger a move. The interpretation is not that simple by any means and there is no guarantee of getting a (successful) result if it is referred to the Premier League."