LIVERPOOL officials flew to Spain yesterday to open contract talks as they step up their bid to keep hold of striker Luis Suarez.

Managing director Ian Ayre arrived in Barcelona for an opening round of discussions with Suarez’s adviser, Pere Guardiola, as Liverpool’s owners, Fenway Sports Group, made clear their determination to secure the forward on a long-term deal.

Suarez has two and a half years left to run on his existing contract, but Liverpool recognise the need to reward the Uruguay international for his sensational performances and are prepared to make him the highest-paid player in the club’s history.

They are also aware that Real Madrid, who courted Suarez last summer before breaking the world transfer record by signing Gareth Bale for £86million, retain an interest in a player who has scored 17 goals in 11 games this term.

Liverpool are prepared to rip up their existing pay structure and it is possible Suarez could expect to double his £100,000-a-week, incentivised deal signed in August 2012 if the negotiations prove successful.

Ayre is being proactive, while his trip to Spain shows just how far relations between the player and the Anfield hierarchy have thawed since the summer when Suarez agitated for a move to Arsenal and accused the club of going back on their word that he could leave.