x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Transfer talk: Suarez 'would be staying' at Liverpool 'for now' ... or maybe not

Unsettled striker is quoted by newspaper in native Uruguay he wants to remain at English Premier League because of the fans' affection, but later the striker himself says he never said that.

Steven Gerrard wants Luis Suarez to stay at Liverpool.
Steven Gerrard wants Luis Suarez to stay at Liverpool.

Luis Suarez has suggested he may be willing to end his dispute with Liverpool and remain with the club, or so a report from Uruguay claims, but the striker, who has been at odds with his club, says not so fast.

El Observador had reported the striker saying: “For now, owing to all the affection of the people, I would be staying.” The newspaper suggested he might sign a new deal with Liverpool.

But Suarez on Wednesday night distanced himself from the report. According to Kyodo News, Suarez said: “I didn’t say that. Maybe someone else did. The main thing is that I am here now with the national team.” The striker has been at odds with his club all summer over his future, last week saying Liverpool had reneged on a deal to allow him to leave should they fail to qualify for the Uefa Champions League.

Arsenal have tried to lure him away as a result, bidding £40,000,001 (Dh227.4m) in an attempt to activate a clause Suarez claims is in his contract, and Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has ordered his player, who has been training alone, to apologise to his teammates before he can return to the first-team squad.

But Suarez, who is banned for the first six games of the season after biting Chelsea's Branislav Ivanovic, is currently away with Uruguay for their friendly in Japan.

In interviews with the Guardian and the Daily Telegraph, Suarez said: "Last year I had the opportunity to move to a big European club and I stayed on the understanding that if we failed to qualify for the Champions League the following season I'd be allowed to go.

"I gave absolutely everything last season but it was not enough to give us a top-four finish – now all I want is for Liverpool to honour our agreement.

"I don't feel betrayed [by Liverpool] but the club promised me something a year ago just as I promised them that I would stay and try everything possible to get us into the Champions League.

"They gave me their word a year ago and now I want them to honour that. And it is not just something verbal with the coach but something that is written in the contract. I'm not going to another club to hurt Liverpool."

Rodgers and principal owner John W Henry have been steadfast in their stance that Suarez will not be sold, but the player had said he would be willing to go to Premier League arbitration in order to secure a move away.

Suarez added last week: "I have the club's word and we have the written contract and we are happy to take this to the Premier League for them to decide the case but I do not want it to come to that. We have the backing of the PFA."

Liverpool's fans have remained loyal to Suarez throughout a number of controversial issues over recent seasons, including his biting of Ivanovic and his use of racist language to Manchester United's Patrice Evra.

Even this summer they have warmly applauded him, first at Steven Gerrard's testimonial game last weekend and then at an open training session last week.

If Suarez stands by today's quote, though, it would appear their backing has had an impact and, if he obeys Rodgers' orders, he could be back in the first-team picture when his suspension ends.

"Initially there will be a recognition that [there needs to be] an apology to his team-mates and the club," Rodgers said at the weekend.

Earlier on Wednesday, Gerrard dealt a blow to Arsenal's pursuit of Suarez by declaring that he will not be allowed to join another English Premier League club.

Speaking at a news conference ahead of England's friendly against Scotland on, Gerrard said he would hate to see the striker depart.

"I think it's very important [that Suarez stays]. He's one of the best players in the world and I can certainly understand why clubs are are showing an interest in him," Gerrard said.

"If I can use my influence to try and make him stay, of course I'll try and do that, because I love playing with him and I don't want him to go. For Liverpool to be successful moving forward, we have to try and keep our best players."

Asked how hopeful he was that Suarez would stay, Gerrard admitted he did not know how the saga would conclude but said he was optimistic he would not leave for a domestic rival.

"At the moment, I haven't got a clue," he said. "That's my honest opinion. I don't know what's going to happen over the next couple of weeks, but I'm really confident he won't be going to anyone else in England."

Gerrard was also asked about the mindset of Wayne Rooney, his England teammate, who is reportedly considering his future at Manchester United and has been the subject of two unsuccessful offers from Chelsea.

Rooney is scheduled to feature against Scotland despite having missed the whole of United's pre-season campaign with hamstring and shoulder injuries, but Gerrard said he had shown no signs of unease in training.

"Everyone knows he's certainly not match-fit because he hasn't played in any friendly games throughout the summer, but it's the same old Wayne Rooney in training," the midfielder said.

"He looks good, he's scoring goals and he's certainly ready to play. He's prepared really well, but he needs these minutes for his own personal fitness and I'm sure he's itching to start tomorrow."

Asked if he had spoken to Rooney about his situation at United, Gerrard would only reply: "Yeah, we have, yeah."

Pushed to provide more information, he said: "It's none of my business and I don't think it's fair on Wayne for me to talk about what we've spoken about.

"Of course I'm close to him, and I respect his situation, but for me it's all about how Wayne Rooney's feeling for tomorrow's game and I'm sure he'll sort the other problems out himself."

Roy Hodgson, the England manager, hopes Rooney will be fit and firing for the resumption of World Cup qualifying in September and Gerrard said the former Everton striker was central to the national team's hopes of booking a berth in Brazil.

"I think he's shown over the years how important he is for this team," he said.

"Everyone looks to Wayne for the inspiration and the key to help get us to major tournaments. He's one of our best players so it's important he gets match-fit as soon as possible. We need him firing over these four important qualifiers."


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