Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has returned fire in his bitter battle with Luis Suarez by strongly denying he made a promise that the striker could leave Anfield this summer.
Suarez has made his position at Liverpool close to untenable after accusing Rodgers of going back on a vow to allow him to leave the club if the Reds failed to qualify for this season's Champions League.
With Arsenal offering Suarez Champions League football and the £40 million transfer fee the Uruguayan believed he could leave for, the increasingly public stand-off became personal when the striker lashed out at the Reds boss, who has now hit back.
"There were no promises made, categorically none and no promises broken," Rodgers told reporters in Norway after Liverpool's friendly game on Wednesday night. "Obviously, the remarks I've read, it is bitterly disappointing, but my job is bigger than that. My job is to fight and protect the club.
"We have a standard at Liverpool and I will fight for my life to retain it. The Liverpool way is all about being committed to the cause and fighting for the shirt. It's also about dignity and being dignified in how you speak about the club. And it’s about unity. If anyone steps outside of those values then I have to deal with it.
"I will take strong, decisive action, absolutely, as there has been total disrespect of the club. This is a lack of respect of a club that has given him everything. Absolutely everything."
Suarez is set to face a club fine for his outburst and his antics seem to have hardened Liverpool's insistence that they will not sell him to Premier League rivals Arsenal.
Yet even though Rodgers concedes there are "a few bridges to cross" before Suarez can play for Liverpool again, the Anfield chief has refused to entirely close the door on Suarez.
"The reality is we don’t want to sell Luis Suarez. It’s as simple as that," he added. "He is important for what we are trying to do. There have been a couple of offers but no promises broken -- that’s the reality.
"We can understand if he wants to play in the Champions League, but that doesn’t mean we’ve broken any promise.
"What we are trying to do now is get the correct value for a player, but we know we don’t have to sell him. I don’t believe there is a clause in his contract that says he can leave for any sort of price.
"Is there a way back for him at Liverpool? There’s a few bridges to cross before that can happen. It’s about the respect, that’s the only thing we look for. This is one of the most iconic football clubs in the world -- you can’t disrespect it.
"That’s something I will ensure before anything happens in the future. That bridge will need to be crossed."