Anfield legend Phil Thompson has urged the Liverpool hierarchy to demand a world-record transfer fee if clubs want to sign Luis Suarez.
Last season's Premier League top scorer has been heavily linked with Barcelona, in the aftermath of the biting incident at the FIFA World Cup that has seen him handed a four-month ban from all football activity as well as a nine-match international suspension.
Opinion is firmly divided among Liverpool supporters about whether the time has come to offload the controversial Uruguay striker, who has now bitten opposition players three times in addition to being found guilty by the Football Association of racially abusing Manchester United defender Patrice Evra.
Thompson – who made over 300 appearances for the Merseyside club – is unfazed at the prospect of Suarez leaving, but rates the 27-year-old as better than Gareth Bale, the Wales winger who moved to Real Madrid from Tottenham for a reported record-breaking £80million last September.
"I don't think Suarez should leave for less than £80million," Thompson insisted to the Liverpool Echo.
"This guy is far better than Gareth Bale. He gives you far more, particularly in the lesser games.
"If he goes to Barcelona they will find that against the lower teams, when a lot of players don't turn up, he will be bang up for it.
"This has been coming. Some foreigners like Sami Hyypia come to the club and develop a strong attachment and don't want to go elsewhere.
"But the reality is that most foreign players will only stay for a few years. Liverpool turned Suarez into a world-class striker and will make a massive profit."
On reports that Suarez is bound for Camp Nou, Thompson said: "From speaking to supporters, I think it's the younger element of our fanbase who are particularly upset about the prospect of Luis Suarez going to Barcelona.
"They are more ready and willing to forgive and forget everything he's done. I do sympathise with that as Suarez is the star player.
"Of course if he went there would be a big gap to fill.
"As a fan you wonder where the next star is going to come from? But what I would say is that this football club has a habit of producing them.
"Liverpool Football Club is bigger than any individual. Players will always move on but this club will still be here in another 100 years' time."
Suarez plundered 31 Premier League goals last season to spearhead Liverpool's title bid.
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