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Why Arsenal, Liverpool are red-hot for Anderlecht star Matias Suarez

If Anderlecht do rake in the mooted €25 million they expect from the sale of Matias Suarez, it will be a personal triumph for general manager Hermann Van Holsbeeck.

Suarez's elevation this season to one of Belgian football's hottest transfer properties is due to no small way to Van Holsbeeck's personal scouting network, which uncovered the Argentine playing reserve-team football for Belgrano almost four years ago. It was on a trip to Argentina when Van Holsbeeck was urged to take a look at a then 18 year-old Suarez running around in the local reserves competition.

"I remember how we discovered Matias Suarez in South America," recalls Van Holsbeeck. "An Argentine associate told me that I should take a visit to Belgrano de Cordoba and see him for myself.

"I still had some time left and thought ... why not?

"In that game, Suarez scored an incredible goal with a lob of over fifty feet. I immediately called our president and we negotiated for his transfer."

But that first year at Anderlecht was a nightmare for Suarez, as he was forced to undergo knee surgery. Van Holsbeeck admits plucking the young Argentine out of Belgrano's reserve-team and his immediate injury problems also turned up the heat on himself.

"A year after the transfer, the chairman Roger Vanden Stock asked me if I actually knew anything about football, because Suarez was struggling to adjust," the Anderlecht GM recalls.

"But thanks to our good management, 'Mati' has now completely blossomed."

Despite his prolific form, Suarez actually doesn't see himself as an out-and-out striker, which is perhaps why Liverpool and Arsenal are so keen to partner him with Luis Suarez and Robin van Persie respectively.

"In Argentina I played behind the number 9. I scored some goals, but never many. I've been the man for the assists, even though I know that as a striker I can take responsibility. But I will first see if a teammate is in a better position," he says.

Suarez acknowledges the man-management of the Anderlecht coaching staff has been key to his stunning progress, which saw him claim the Golden Boot last season and now recognised as the best player in the Jupiler League.

"Ariel Jacobs gives me great confidence and speaks with me all the time," says the 23 year-old. "These are not always long conversations, but each week he sometimes asks me how I am and how I feel.

"That shows that he believes in me."

Its that support which makes it understandable why Suarez won't allow Premier League transfer interest to go to his head.

The striker's agent, Jorge Cyterzpiler, has spoken openly of enquiries arriving from Liverpool, Arsenal, Manchester United and Manchester City, but you won't hear Suarez talking up the prospect of quitting Anderlecht this summer.

"I have ambition, but now money will not be decisive in my choice," says the Argentine. "Money doesn't have to be a motive, I actually am quite happy to stay in Belgium. I feel good here.

"My wife and I find this a pleasant country - I'm even used to the rain!"

But Anderlecht know they cannot pass up the opportunity of cashing in on Suarez at the end of the season. Van Holsbeeck believes €25 million is a realistic price - and would represent a massive profit on the €1.2 million he negotiated with Belgrano four years ago.

"We don't want to lose Suarez, so I would say he is worth €25 million," he said.

"If a club wants to give that amount, they are welcome. We won't know exactly how much he is worth until the end of the season. Of course, an Argentina cap would increase his price again. But it is beyond dispute Suarez is an exceptional player.

"Over time he has the potential to be a star in the biggest leagues in the world."

Chris Beattie
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Chris Beattie

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