x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Suarez confirms his commitment to Liverpool

Liverpool extended the contract of Luis Suarez to the end of the 2017/18 season and improved his pay package to make him the highest-paid player in club history.

Luis Suarez has millions of reasons to smile after signing an extension to his contract that will keep him in Liverpool. Phil Noble / Reuters
Luis Suarez has millions of reasons to smile after signing an extension to his contract that will keep him in Liverpool. Phil Noble / Reuters

If it were not already clear these are happy days at Liverpool and hard times at Cardiff City, the events of Friday certainly reinforced that notion.

Liverpool extended the contract of Luis Suarez to the end of the 2017/18 season and improved his pay package from the £160,000 (Dh961,000) per week he earns now to £200,000 per week beginning in January, the BBC reported. He will be the highest-paid player in club history.

Meantime, Cardiff City, the Premier League debutants, were in shambles, their coach Malky Mackay ordered by the owner Vincent Tan to resign or be dismissed. Mackay was believed to have led training yesterday and joined the team in the journey to Liverpool after skipping a media session.

If Liverpool win today they will move above Arsenal to the top of table, and if Cardiff lose they will remain only points out of the relegation zone.

Suarez, 26, credited the support of Liverpool fans for his decision to sign the extended deal.

“Without doubt the backing I have received from the Liverpool fans has influenced my decision,” he said. “I am so proud to represent them and go out to do my best for them every time I pull on the shirt.

“I am delighted to have agreed a new deal with Liverpool and have my future secured for the long term.

“We have some great players and the team is growing and improving all the time. I believe I can achieve the ambitions of winning trophies and playing at the very highest level with Liverpool. My aim is to help get us there as quickly as possible.”

Brendan Rodgers, the Liverpool manager, said Suarez has not reached his peak. He added: “This is fantastic news for everyone associated with the club – the team, the owners and most importantly the supporters.

“Luis is a world-class talent and securing his services is crucial for what we are trying to achieve here. What’s most important and most exciting is that, at just 26 years old, his best years are still ahead of him and we now know we’ll be seeing him reach that potential in a Liverpool shirt.”

Liverpool had to fend off interest from Arsenal in the summer, who had a bid of £40,000,001 rejected, but their determination to keep Suarez has paid off, with the club second in the Premier League with the Uruguayan the leading scorer in the top flight with 17 goals, four ahead of his nearest rival.

Suarez’s spell at Anfield has often been a controversial one after being handed two long-term bans, one for racially abusing Manchester United’s Patrice Evra and last season for biting Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic. However, his high rate of production has overshadowed concerns over ethical lapses.

Cardiff fans may have questions about Tan, the Malaysian owner of the side, who is expected to speak to Mackay on Saturday in Liverpool.

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CRYSTAL PALACE v NEWCASTLE UNITED

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With two victories from four matches since Tony Pulis took over, Crystal Palace could target a place in mid-table with a strong showing in the coming days, defender Danny Gabbidon said. “If you can pick up two or three wins it can really push you on for the rest of the season. I think we have done well the last couple of weeks and got ourselves in to a much better position.” France’s Yohan Cabaye returns at midfielder for Newcastle, leaving Alan Pardew with a full squad.

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FULHAM v MANCHESTER CITY

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Manuel Pellegrini prefers winter breaks to the jammed English football holiday fixture. He is not impressed by English football’s packed Christmas fixture schedule. “We have to play 26th and 28th, less than 48 hours,” the City coach said. “It is incredible that the games are so near. … Playing after 40 hours, I think, is a very bad thing.” He fears losing more players to injury; Sergio Aguero and Pablo Zabaleta are among City players already hurt.

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MANCHESTER UNITED v WEST HAM

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Wayne Rooney, who is battling a groin injury, faces a late fitness test but could be available to David Moyes as United play the first of seven games in 21 days. The champions will be without the Portugal winger Nani, who has a hamstring injury, as well as top scorer Robin van Persie, sidelined until next month by a thigh strain. “Wayne has a chance,” Moyes said. West Ham expect back James Tomkins, but captain Kevin Nolan is banned again.

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STOKE CITY v ASTON VILLA

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Mark Hughes would like to see playmaker Stephen Ireland, on loan from Aston Villa, join Stoke on a permanent basis. “I don’t think Stephen thinks his future lies at Aston Villa,” said Hughes, who will not be able to call on the former Manchester City playmaker today. Robert Huth is out for Stoke following knee surgery. Villa will be hoping Christian Benteke can recover his form. He scored 23 goals last season as Villa avoided relegation, but he has not scored for three months.

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SUNDERLAND v NORWICH CITY

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Chris Hughton knows a victory could lift his side to mid-table, but he says he is wary of Sunderland’s Gus Poyet, whom he coached at Tottenham. “Gus was a wonderful player, but was always very passionate about the way he played the game and his thoughts on the game, so it was no surprise to me that he went into coaching and management,” Hughton said. Norwich will have available Ricky van Wolfswinkel, the club-record signing, back from a toe injury.

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