Steven Gerrard has challenged his team mates to ensure Liverpool achieve a top four finish this season for Uruguayan striker Luis Suarez because he “deserves to be in the Champions League.”
Liverpool have supported Suarez through a number of controversies including well publicised charges of racism and diving, but if the Merseyside club fail to qualify for Europe’s club competition Gerrard fears the former Ajaz man may decide his future lies elsewhere.
“Hopefully, we can put a fight on for him between now and the end of the season to finish fourth and we make a decision for him,” Gerrard was quoted as saying in The Sun.
“Only he knows what his ambitions and dreams are. Luis deserves to be in the Champions League – everyone has to admit that. Outside of Leo Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, I’ll argue he’s as good as anyone else.
“He’s probably the best player I’ve played with and I’ve played with some top players in my career.”
Suarez stated in a television interview last week that he dived to try and win Liverpoola penalty in the 0-0 draw with Stoke City at Anfield in October. Manager Brendan Rodgers labelled his comments ‘unacceptable’ and ‘wrong’.
However his captain Gerrard backs the striker stating: “Luis has been really open to it and admitted to it in the interview,” he said.
“He’ll learn from it. People want to talk about the things he does wrong in the game, but for me, I just want to praise him and how lucky we are to have him at Liverpool, and hopefully we can keep him for a long time.”
Gerrard and Suarez scored twice in Liverpool’s 5-0 demolition of Norwich and Gerrard stated: “He uses every blade of grass, even close to the lines in the opposition area, you know, parts of the pitch that you don’t even run on. He uses everything, he turns and twists, he’s impossible to mark. He’s just torture to mark.”
The midfielder also stated his belief that Suarez is happy with Liverpool: ‘He seems settled, he loves the club,’ he said on Sky TV. ‘I know he’s comfortable and he’s happy here’.