Gerrard was vocal about Suarez’s importance ahead of the new season, per Andy Hunter of the Guardian, admitting his exit would likely kill the club’s hopes of finishing in the top four.
Suarez had stated publicly his desire to leave Anfield, but now the Liverpool skipper says the controversial forward is enjoying life on Merseyside once more, per Chris Bascombe of the Daily Telegraph:
A lot of players who have been in his position might have come back and spat the dummy out, not trying for the team. But he is not that type of guy. He realised that the club wanted to keep him and he has respected their decision.
He is here now and he wants to stay. He wants to achieve something this season and he looks as hungry as he has ever done.
Suarez sparkled upon his return to Premier League action, netting twice as Liverpool beat Sunderland to move second in the table.
His partnership with Daniel Sturridge, who created both Suarez goals and is currently the league’s top scorer, has been dubbed the best in England by Brendan Rodgers, per ESPNFC.
However, Suarez’s happiness at Liverpool is still likely to be dictated heavily by their ability to book Champions League football next season.
Right now, the Reds are looking like genuine competitors for a top-four spot. If they finish the season as they have started it, it is highly conceivable Suarez will be happy to extend his Anfield stay.
The forward’s children have been raised in Liverpool, and he has close friendships with members of the playing squad, not least fellow South American Lucas Leiva.
Liverpool’s managing director Ian Ayre recently stated to Sky Sports News that the club would not open contract talks with Suarez until the summer, per Ben Burrows of the Daily Mirror, as is typical of the club’s policy to wait until a player enters the final two years of his current deal.
No amount of money will be as powerful at the negotiating table as the lure of Champions League football. Liverpool must be able to offer it, otherwise Gerrard and Co. will be set for another nightmare summer, as the skipper describes in Bascombe’s article:
When you have a player as good as Luis Suarez, you know that the big clubs are going to want him. I was waking up every morning, hoping that nothing would happen and that he would still be here.
Nobody tried harder than me to make him stay and he knows exactly what I think of him. I knew if we could keep him here, the better our chances would be. He is a special type of footballer and he gives us something different.
Liverpool have the chance to apply significant pressure to their rivals over the next three games, when they enter winnable clashes with Crystal Palace, Newcastle and West Brom.
Nine points from a possible nine would heighten expectations that Suarez and Co. can return to Europe's top table next term.