Much has been made of FSG's involvement--or lack thereof, as it were--in the goings on at Liverpool since they took over the club back in 2010. They're not around enough, they should be more vocal, they should have made better decisions, they shouldn't be so American and etc. Those are all criticisms somewhere on the spectrum ranging from asinine to valid, but over the past season or so it does appear that they've grown into their role as owners, operating more shrewdly and decisively after missteps in their first year in control. Today John Henry continues the positive trend, speaking firmly and confidently about the future of Luis Suarez, whom he states is going to be a Liverpool player beyond the summer transfer window.
Speaking publicly for the first time since the drama kicked into overdrive, Henry informed reporters that Suarez will not be allowed to join Arsenal or any other club, and that come September 3, the Uruguayan striker will still be a Liverpool player:
"We are not going to sell Luis. For all the top clubs it's extremely important [not to sell to a rival] but especially for Liverpool because we're not in Europe this year and have not been in the Champions League for a while. To sell to a rival for those positions, or one of them, would be ludicrous. Liverpool needs to be playing in Europe. It needs to be playing in the Champions League. That's what Liverpool football club is about.
"I'm unequivocal that we won't sell to Arsenal, whatever the bid is. I have not said it to Stan [Kroenke, Arsenal's majority shareholder] but I had a personal conversation with others at Arsenal and told him [Gazidis] we would not sell to Arsenal. He won't be sold even if a foreign club comes in because we do not have time to sign a suitable replacement. It's a football reason. It's not about finances. That's why at this point, so late in the window, with everyone who's already moved or isn't moving, we can't replace him. So for football reasons we can't sell, and especially to Arsenal."
Henry goes on to address the rupture between Suarez, Brendan Rodgers, and Liverpool personnel and supporters, noting that there's some healing that's going to take place, but he is absolutely concrete in his assertions that Suarez is going nowhere. Call it PR or BS or whatever, but this is again the solid stance that Liverpool supporters have been asking for, and now the only outcome is that they follow through on their word. All signs right now point to that taking place.
If Suarez remains at Liverpool, it's going to be interesting to watch how he re-integrates into the squad, particularly in light of Rodgers' comments about the player needing to right some wrongs before he's able to be a part of the team again. However that happens, it absolutely cannot distract from the final preparations for the new Premier League season, nor should it be treated as a major event when he returns from his ban. He's world-class, no doubt, but he'll have to work his way back into the squad, and that's as it should be.
It won't happen immediately, and might just be temporary anyhow, but hopefully now we can shift our focus back to the football and the final days before Liverpool welcome Stoke to Anfield in the opener. Regardless of what happens with Luis Suarez, that has to be the top priority.