Monday 11 December 2017

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers says Luis Suarez wants to stay at Anfield

Chris Bascombe

BRENDAN RODGERS, the Liverpool manager, said Luis Suárez’s actions spoke far louder than his much-scrutinised words as he eased fears that the striker would seek a summer exit because of the club’s likely failure to finish in the top four.

Suárez made a swift return to Merseyside after international duty, meeting Rodgers for the first time since being quoted in Uruguay suggesting that he would consider offers from a Champions League club, commentsLiverpool suggested were “lost in translation”.

Liverpool are sure the striker would only consider a move at the end of the season if they wanted to sell him. But that is out of the question given he will still have three years remaining on his Anfield deal and remains the focal point of Rodgers’s line-up.

Rodgers’s confidence is based largely on the commitment he sees from Suárez on and off the pitch. Suárez’s instant return from World Cup duty is emblematic of that, as he made a quick dash from the Uruguayan camp in Santiago in Chile, where he featured in his country’s 2-0 defeat on Tuesday night, reuniting with his Liverpool team-mates at the earliest opportunity on Thursday.

This is in contrast to some of his South American team-mates who have gone Awol for their European clubs. Edinson Cavani, for example, had still not returned to his Italian club, Napoli, by late Friday, citing travel problems.

“I said to the staff this morning while I was stood there watching him, this is why you love him as a manager. He has an absolutely amazing appetite for the game,” Rodgers said.

"He’s not just jetting out to somewhere like Spain to play the game. This is a boy who must clock up incredible air miles. As soon as he arrived yesterday – we get all the players to report back so we can give them a quick MOT medically to check if they are right – he comes back in, and he is back out on the training pitch again this morning.

“Of course he looks a little bit tired, but that doesn’t stop him. He was out there working, running and chasing. He’s an amazing character. He doesn’t get enough credit for that.”

Liverpool recognise there are no guarantees where world-class players are involved, particularly if they cannot provide Champions Leaguefootball. However, Suárez’s signing of a four-year extension a year ago ensures Liverpool remain in a powerful negotiation position when clubs inevitably express their interest in the 26-year-old.

Rodgers sees no evidence that Suárez is casting an eye elsewhere. “It’s an environment in which he is happy and let’s hope that’s the same for many years,” he said. “The enjoyment will be seen in the performance level. And if you look at his performance level, it has been phenomenal.

“I have a great relationship with him, he seems happy here with his mates. And what I do know is that he wants Liverpool to succeed.”

Liverpool travel to Aston Villa on Sunday, a recent defeat by Southampton ending an improved spell where European qualification was back on the agenda. Rodgers says he is looking for Suárez’s strike partner, Daniel Sturridge, to match the energy levels of the Uruguayan.

“The striker drives the train,” Rodgers said. “Look at the history of this club. Look at Rush, Dalglish, Fowler and how hard they worked. This club has had a No 9 that works his socks off. Luis is a great leader and Daniel has only just come into the club and it’s a new way of working for him.”

Jamie Carragher and Pepe Reina are fit and able to return after respective shin and calf injuries.

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