A club rejects an unacceptable offer for Luis Suárez. Suárez believes he is entitled to leave said club. The employer continues to say no and the employee calls in his lawyers. For Liverpool 2013 read Groningen 2007, and a reminder of how the striker has mastered implausible escapes off the field as well as on.
The Uruguay forward has not taken legal action against Liverpool since Arsenal's £40,000,001 bid was declined on Tuesday but, in the absence of an offer that tempts the Anfield club to sell and ends the stand-off over a disputed clause in his contract, the possibility of arbitration remains. He has previous and the warning for Liverpool is that, even when he loses, Suárez can win.
Six years ago, following a season of impressive individual performances, goals and disciplinary problems for Groningen (another parallel?), Suárez was the subject of a €3.5m bid from Ajax. The Eredivisie club insisted the offer did not reflect the striker's market value and were eventually taken to court by their player and his representatives. "Their case was that he should be allowed to join Ajax for financial and sporting improvement," recalled a Groningen spokesman.
"At that time we thought it was the idea of his management team and not Luis Suárez himself. It was not the same agent or management team that he has now. The financial reason for joining Ajax was dismissed by the court because we had made him the offer of a new contract and there was not much difference between our new offer and Ajax's offer. As for sporting reasons, the court ruled that when you are playing in the same competition there is no change apart from wearing a different shirt. The competition and the rules of the competition are still the same. Liverpool and Arsenal are both in the Premier League so in Holland they would rule there is no difference."
Victory to Groningen – to an extent. On the same day the court ruled in the club's favour, Ajax submitted an improved offer of €7.5m for Suárez and, with bridges burned and supporters turning against him, the striker got his transfer to Amsterdam. "We didn't have to let him go at that time because the court said we were right," Groningen's spokesman insists. "It was only afterwards, when Ajax made a better offer, and we decided it was the best offer, that we decided to do the deal."
Arbitration would appear a fruitless route for Suárez in his search for Champions League football away from Liverpool. Any hearing, either by a Premier League regulatory commission or in court, would not take place before this summer's transfer window closes. Officially at least, they remain pragmatic about Suárez's bitter departure at his first European club.
The Groningen official added: "It was unusual for us but it had happened to other clubs before. It's the way it goes sometimes. When he decided he needed to do that, or his management wanted to go that way, we had to be prepared for a court case and we were. The court ruling proved our case was stronger."