Sources: Barcelona, Liverpool open transfer talks over Luis Suarez
JUL 02, 2014 5:53a ET
Barcelona have made no secret of their admiration for the controversial Uruguayan striker, though Liverpool have so far made no comment.
If Barca meet Suarez's release clause - which is understood to be between £70 million and £80m - the transfer could go ahead and Liverpool could be particularly tempted if Alexis Sanchez moves in the opposite direction as part of the deal.
Suarez is currently serving a four-month ban for biting Italy's Giorgio Chiellini at the World Cup.
Following the 27-year-old's apology - which Barca reportedly had a major influence in procuring - the Primera Liga side appear to have stepped up their pursuit.
At a press conference on Wednesday, Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu would not be drawn on the talks.
But he did he made a point of commending Suarez for apologizing and confirmed they are in the market for a striker, as well as two new center-backs.
"I announced months ago that the team would undergo a deep renovation but we cannot reveal details because we don't want to give clues away to any of our rivals," Bartomeu said.
"Our representatives are constantly traveling to other countries because of potential signings.
"We have the names and the players, but sometimes there are clubs who speculate over possible signings by Barca to manipulate the price.
"All I can say is that they are names that have been agreed with (new coach) Luis Enrique and they excite us.
"For example, (sporting director Andoni) Zubizarreta already has the names of the center backs although they are not signed yet as there are clubs who think their value will go up after the World Cup."
Asked about Suarez, Bartomeu said: "Suarez is a Liverpool player so I can't talk about him, he belongs to another team, a rival team. But we are all football men, and saying sorry is honorable, it helps the competition.
"He did something that wasn't right, so it's the responsibility of everyone in football, be it Liverpool or anywhere else, to remember that he has said sorry. Admitting you have done something wrong is very important.
"Luis has apologized and that is honorable, he's taken a step towards rehabilitating, the football world should support him and help him. As a football fan I hope he can turn a corner."
Negotiations may not be completely straightforward though, as Liverpool do not believe the ban reduces Suarez's value.
Barcelona are likely to argue it does and reports suggest they will offer in the region of £60m.
The offer of Sanchez, valued at £30 million, could help though the Chile international is also a target for other big clubs around Europe and Bartomeu said Barca are still "counting on him" for next season.
Sky Sports' Spanish football pundit Guillem Balague believes Suarez had to apologize in order to secure his dream move to Barcelona.
"Barcelona wanted Luis Suarez to apologize," he said. "It is also part of an appeal that will surely reduce his ban.
"I realize many people feel cheated as he has apologized before. Biting shouldn’t be done but can be corrected and Chiellini has accepted the apology, so who are we not to do the same?"