Friday 23 February 2018

Ronnie Whelan: I can’t see Luis Suarez leaving Anfield this summer

Ronnie Whelan expects Luis Suarez to remain at Anfield for next season
Ronnie Whelan expects Luis Suarez to remain at Anfield for next season

Ryan McCann

Former Liverpool midfielder Ronnie Whelan says he doesn't expect Luis Suaréz to leave Anfield this summer.

The Uraguayan - who is the subject of a world-record £100m bid from Spanish giants Real Madrid - is in line to start against England this evening after missing his country's disappointing 3-1 defeat to Costa Rica last Saturday through injury.

"I will be very surprised if he left now," said Whelan.

"Unless someone gives you a hundred million on the back of a great World Cup or something, then you would obviously have to think about it.” 

"But it takes an awful lot of money to buy 30 Premier League goals a season. But I honestly think he will stay. He said he wants Champions League football and he was quoted in a recent interview saying that he was more than happy to stay at Liverpool for another year. 

"I think he’ll give at least another season to Liverpool and he will look at how things go in the Champions League and take it from there. It's all about Champions League. That's what he’s wanted since arriving at the club and now he’s got it.

"I think there is the possibility he could leave the year after though but it depends how things go for the club in Europe this season and the players they bring in," added the 1984 European Cup winner. 

Suarez was in blistering form last season, scoring 31 Premier League goals in 33 appearances. The PFA Player of the Year formed a devastating partnership with England striker Daniel Sturridge and the duo returned 52 goals for Brendan Rodgers' side - the second most prolific in Premier League history, bettered only by Andy Cole and Peter Beardsley's exploits in the 1993/1994 season.

Whelan believes Rodgers must now focus on plugging the holes in defence after assembling one of the League's most frightening attacking partnerships and possessing a versatile and creative midfield. 

"Everyone knows Brendan will only be thinking about one area of the team now and that's the defence," said the former Republic of Ireland midfielder," said the RTÉ pundit.

"He knows he has enough options up front and they have enough bodies in midfield so he will now try to tighten up the back. Liverpool can’t afford to continue leaking goals like they do. But then again, it is in their style to commit men forward. 

"If you are going to have men running forward from midfield you are going to be short on cover at the back so tactically you might have to expect that. Hopefully we get a good left-back in and a good centre-back and we can push on next year. 

"I really like the look of Rickie Lambert. I know he is 32 but he is a clever player. If you are going to play that Liverpool style with players breaking from midfield then he can be that man to find players with neat little passes at the right time. 

"He is intelligent enough and good enough on the ball to work in that system. If we can add more players- Emre Can is another one who has been linked and looks as if he can play – then they will be in a strong position for next season," he added. 

The Reds narrowly missed out on their first ever Premier League title on the final day of last season. Losing 2-0 at home to Chelsea and throwing away a 3-0 lead only to draw 3-3 at Crystal Palace in the run-in effectively handed Man City the title.  

"Maybe," said Whelan, when asked if Liverpool have perhaps lost their element of surprise for the forthcoming campaign.

 "But would you say that about Barcelona when they were playing so magnificently? They hit you on the break and with such pace. Teams knew that was how they played but they just couldn't stop it. 

"I don’t think Liverpool will change their style next year. I think Brendan will still try close people down and get bodies forward. They come so close to winning the League with nowhere near the greatest squad in the world so if he can add to it then who knows what is possible? I expect them to be as good next year. It's an exciting time for the club."

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