Arsenal bid a pound over £40m for the 27-year-old last summer, believing it would force the Reds into a sale, but speaking at he MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference at the weekend Henry said:
“Arsenal offered £40m and one pound for him and triggered his buy-out clause.”
“Since apparently these contracts don’t seem to hold, we took the position we’re just not selling.”
“But what we’ve found over the years is that contracts don’t seem to mean a lot in England – actually not in England, in world football.
“It doesn’t matter how long a player’s contract is, he can decide he’s leaving.
“We sold Fernando Torres for £50m. We didn’t want to sell but we were forced to.
“For the first time [with Suarez] we took the position that we weren’t selling.”
I cannot remember any club ever ignoring a clause in a contract like this. When Man United met Phil Jones buyout clause when he was at Blackburn, the media was all over Blackburn Rovers’ owners Venky’s for being naive in not selling Jones immediately when United met Jones valuation. As the Mirror wrote at the time:
Their response to Manchester United’s move for defender Phil Jones suggests that they believe that a buy-out clause is now not a buy-out clause, but simply a figure which must be met to speak to a player.
You could almost admire their naivety in believing clubs go to such lengths these days whilst pursuing their targets.
It will be interesting to see how the media handles Henry’s comments. Will they also call the American owners naive, or will Henry get a free pass.
And since Arsenal did trigger Suarez’s release clause, why didn’t his agent, the PFA or the Premier League get involved and tell Liverpool to live up to the terms of Suarez’s contract?