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Monday 22 September 2014

Rodgers: Suarez better off here

Published 31/10/2013 | 17:31

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Luis Suarez, pictured, can help Liverpool qualify for the Champions League, according to Brendan Rodgers

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers believes a more mature Luis Suarez can fulfil his Champions League ambitions at Anfield and no longer needs to cast admiring glances at the likes of Arsenal.

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The Uruguay international was so keen to take up the Gunners' offer of an escape route in the summer after they bid £40,000,001 he accused the Reds of reneging on a deal which he claimed allowed him to leave for a side playing in Europe's elite competition.

Liverpool owner John Henry was unequivocally opposed to selling to a rival and that stance appears to have been rewarded with the South American scoring six goals in four league matches since returning from suspension this season.

That, along with fellow striker Daniel Sturridge's blistering form of eight goals in nine league games, has propelled Liverpool to third in the table, just two points behind Saturday's opponents Arsenal.

And while it may be a position some feel is unlikely to be sustained, Rodgers insists Suarez should have no reason to want to leave as he can play Champions League football with his current side.

"I understand why Arsenal would want to buy a player of Luis' quality because he is one of the leading strikers in the world but it was something that was never going to happen," said the Reds boss.

"For us and the institution we are we certainly weren't going to sell to a rival, a competitor, and that was something which was very strong from the off.

"There was all sorts of gossip in the summer but we were very firm in our leadership, from the top right the way through, that this was something we didn't want to do.

"You have to give credit to the players themselves. It certainly wasn't an easy situation.

"It was also a great credit to the owners and the leadership of the club that they stood by what my thoughts were as a manager and they backed it all the way.

"This was the place for Luis to showcase his talents. He is a player, like some of our other players, who deserves to be playing at the highest level of European football but we believe he can do that at Liverpool.

"There is no greater stage for him than a club like this and once the window was shut, like we thought, there was never going to be an issue.

"It is a player we were really happy to keep who is surrounded by other good players as well.

"He is one of the hardest-working players that is in love with football I've seen and once the window shut he has been brilliant.

"He is maturing as a man. He is 26, father of two now, and I think the maturity in his game and personal life is there to see.

"Everyone talks about his goals and work-rate but I've seen an improvement in his football ability and his maturity.

"That really bodes well for us. We won't get carried away, we have to keep our concentration and continue to work very hard."

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