Brendan Rodgers was directly asked over the weekend the one question for which he must have been braced since the summer.
Will this season be Luis Suarez’s last at Liverpool?
It is the lingering query that renders every magical Suarez goal bittersweet for all Liverpool fans, yet they may be heartened by Rodgers’ reply—reported by David Maddock of the Daily Mirror:
No, I wouldn’t say that—when a player is happy and working well you get a performance like you did today.
He—like ourselves—wants to be at the very highest level he can be, and you can see by his performances that he deserves to be looking at that level. It shows the level of him.
Rodgers will come face-to-face with the club Suarez nearly joined when Liverpool travel to Arsenal on Saturday, in a game he hopes will punish the Gunners for their derogatory summer bid of £40 million plus £1, reported by Andy Hunter of the Guardian.
Suarez became embroiled in a bitter fallout with Liverpool as he attempted to force a transfer, prompting Rodgers to make him train in isolation, per Dominic King of the Daily Mail.
Real Madrid were seen as Suarez’s dream move, per James Andrew of the Mail. However, he also appeared willing to switch to Arsenal, according to Paul Joyce of the Daily Express. Even so, Rodgers is convinced the striker’s long-term future belongs at Anfield. Maddock provides the quotes:
For me, this is the place for Luis. I still maintain that even if we were in mid-table this would be the place for him to be because this is a massive club—a global institution.
But as a football club and as a team we are growing and he can grow with us. Luis has the support of everyone at the club and the love of everyone and because this is a worldwide institution, there is no better place for him to grow.
Suarez is a difficult player to read when it comes to emotions. Unlike former Liverpool favourite Fernando Torres, the Uruguayan is almost incapable of giving less than 100 percent on a football pitch—regardless of his state of mind.
His hat-trick against West Brom has to rival some of the best trebles scored in Premier League history. Two majestic headers and one trademark solo effort lit up Anfield in a 4-1 victory, which has Liverpool sitting two points off the top spot.
Suarez’s smile and sheer elation was impossible to ignore and his infectious enthusiasm for playing football is something he will never lose, regardless of which club he represents.
However, the dangerous times for Liverpool are when Suarez isn’t on the pitch, scoring goals alongside partner-in-crime Daniel Sturridge. When he has to sit back and watch others compete for the Champions League, it reminds Suarez of where he should be.
It would take an outrageous offer to convince Liverpool to part with their talisman in January, but the danger time comes in the summer, when Suarez is mixing it with the world’s best players in Brazil (assuming Uruguay beat Jordan in a playoff).
Liverpool must make sure he has Champions League football to return to after the World Cup. If they do achieve a top-four spot, Rodgers’ positive outlook will be justified.