We'll improve despite Suarez sale – Brendan Rodgers
Published 12/07/2014 | 02:30
Brendan Rodgers, the Liverpool manager, vowed to recover from the loss of Luis Suarez, insisting "no one is bigger than the club" after the striker yesterday sealed a £75m transfer to Barcelona.
Rodgers delivered a firm message to disappointed supporters after confirming the reluctant sale of the 27-year-old, promising to improve the team with the proceeds of the deal.
Suarez will sign a five-year Barcelona contract next week, pending a medical, although it is unclear whether he will be presented to supporters at the Nou Camp, due to his ban from football-related activities.
Liverpool had no option but to sell Suarez once his exit clause was triggered by Barcelona, and the Uruguayan made it clear he wanted to go.
Rodgers said the player had improved during his time on Merseyside and insisted the club would become "stronger" without him this season.
"If there is one thing the history of this great club teaches us, it is that Liverpool FC is bigger than any individual," said Rodgers.
"I am confident we will improve the team further and will be stronger for this coming season, when we will be competing on all fronts; domestically and in the greatest club competition in the world, the Champions League.
"Luis is a very special talent and I thank him for the role he has played in the team in the past two years, during my time at Liverpool. I think he would be the first to accept he has improved as a player over that period, along with the team and has benefited from being here, as we have benefited from him.
"The club have done all they can over a sustained period of time to try to keep Luis at Liverpool. It is with great reluctance and following lengthy discussions that we have eventually agreed to his wishes to move to Spain for new experiences and challenges. We wish him and his young family well; we will always consider them to be friends.
"We are focused on the future, as we strive to continue with the progress we have made and build on last season."
Suarez released his own statement in which he cited his lifelong ambition "to play and live in Spain".
"It is with a heavy heart that I leave Liverpool for a new life and new challenges in Spain," he said. "Both me and my family have fallen in love with this club and with the city. But most of all, I have fallen in love with the incredible fans. You have always supported me and we, as a family, will never forget it, we will always be Liverpool supporters.
"I hope you can all understand why I have made this decision. This club did all they could to get me to stay, but playing and living in Spain, where my wife's family live, is a lifelong dream and ambition. I believe now the timing is right.
"I wish Brendan Rodgers and the team well for the future. The club is in great hands and I'm sure will be successful again next season. I am very proud I have played my part in helping to return Liverpool to the elite of the Premier League and, in particular, back into the Champions League.
"Thank you again for some great moments and memories. You'll Never Walk Alone."
Liverpool are sorry to lose one of the world's premier talents. The club hoped he would stay to lead the club's return to the Champions League, but that prospect seemed remote.
The lure of the Spanish superpowers as an ultimate destination remains too great for the world's best players to resist. The consolation for Rodgers is that his transfer kitty has been magnified and negotiations surrounding the transfer were painless.
There were fears Barcelona would try to negotiate a lower fee, but it became apparent during the first meeting between club officials that a summer saga similar to last year – when Suarez tried to engineer his departure to Arsenal for £40m – would not be repeated. Despite suggestions from Spain that Liverpool received less than the sale clause, Anfield officials are adamant they only sanctioned the deal because they received the full value.
Suarez joined Liverpool from Ajax for £22.7m in January 2011 and instantly endeared himself to the Kop with skill, work-rate and goals. He was voted player of the year by his fellow professionals and journalists last season after scoring 31 times.
Sadly, he also departs the Premier League having left his mark on various disciplinary panels. He was banned for 10 games for biting Chelsea's Branislav Ivanovic in 2013, while an earlier charge of using language "referencing the racial origin" of Manchester United's Patrice Evra led to an eight-match ban and £40,000 fine in 2011. He was also banned for one match for making an obscene gesture to Fulham fans. He departs in the midst of a four-month Fifa suspension for biting Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini during the World Cup.
Liverpool have already begun the process of replacing him. Having invested £40m on Adam Lallana, Emre Can and Rickie Lambert, they expect to conclude the purchase of winger Lazar Markovic for £26m from Benfica today. (©Daily Telegraph)