Sport Champions League

Monday 26 August 2019

Liverpool legend urges Anfield crowd to give Barcelona duo Luis Suarez and Philippe Coutinho 'a great reception'

Luis Suarez and Philippe Coutinho return to Anfield
Luis Suarez and Philippe Coutinho return to Anfield

Liverpool legend Mark Lawrenson has insisted the Barcelona duo of Luis Suarez and Philippe Coutinho should be given a warm welcome when they return to Anfield to take on their former club in the Champions League semi-final on Tuesday night.

Suarez left Liverpool for Barcelona in the summer of 2014 and Coutinho made his move in January 2018, with former Republic of Ireland defender Lawrenson suggesting Reds fans should understand why the pair swapped Merseyside for Catalonia.

"Suarez and Coutinho should both get a great reception and I'm sure they will because Liverpool fans will remember what they did for the club," Paddy Power ambassador Lawrenson told Independent.ie.

"Both of them were wonderful for Liverpool while they were here, but it's very hard for any player who is not born on Merseyside to ignore Barcelona when they come after you with big money offers.

"Suarez had one year at Liverpool where he was out of this world. He scored amazing goals week after week and very nearly carried the club to the Premier League title when Brendan Rodgers was in charge.

"Coutinho was also fantastic during his time at Liverpool and look at the money the club received for the two of them when they sold them on. It was around €200m and that money had helped Jurgen Klopp build the team he has today.

"Virgil van Dijk and Alisson were bought with the Coutinho money and while any club will miss a player as good as he is, most Liverpool sensible fans will be very happy with the players who came in after he left."

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Suarez has been chastised by some Liverpool fans with his excited reaction following his opening goal in Barcelona's 3-0 semi-final first leg win last Wednesday, but he has vowed not to celebrate if he scores in the return match at Anfield.

Yet Lawrenson suggests Suarez should not apologise for succeeding with his new team and insists Liverpool fans should not take offence to his passion.

"Of course he can celebrate a goal against Liverpool and so he should, by the way," added Lawrenson. "No Liverpool fan should be worried if one of our former players scores against us and is happy about it because that's football. Suarez is a Barcelona player now playing in a Champions League semi-final, so of course he will celebrate a goal.

"You have to remember that Luis Saurez comes from a very difficult background in Uruguay and he has not always found it easy to adjust to life in Europe. His wife has been a hugely influential figure in his life and she has raised him in many ways.

"I think Liverpool fans could associate with Suarez on a number of levels when he was at the club and now he has moved on to a massive club in Barcelona and you have to accept that."

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