herald

Saturday 21 October 2017

Missing 
Lu' 
already

Gerrard insists Liverpool would be Premier League favourites if Suarez stayed

Steven Gerrard. Picture: Peter Byrne/PA
Steven Gerrard. Picture: Peter Byrne/PA

STEVEN GERRARD says Liverpool would be title favourites had Luis Suarez rebuffed the advances of Barcelona.

The club captain was upset that the Uruguayan had quit Anfield, because of the potential impact on Liverpool's Premier League challenge, but he was relieved the striker had not entertained ideas of going to an English rival, after last season's bid by Arsenal.

Gerrard said Suarez was "too good for Arsenal".The Liverpool captain believes Suarez kept his promise to give the Merseyside club one more year, and it was understandable he was lured to the Nou Camp.

"I believe if we had Luis Suarez we'd be favourites," said Gerrard. "I'm disappointed to see him leave now but I am happy for him that's he has got what he wants and deserves. Since day one he has been phenomenal in training every day and in the games.

"His wife is from Barcelona and I don't think you can begrudge a player like that, who has worked so hard for his dream. You can't go against him when he says he is leaving for Barcelona. His dream from the first day he came was to play for Real Madrid or Barcelona. Last summer when he was out in the cold and training on his own that's the conversation I had with him. I said, 'Don't go to Arsenal'.

"I would have been really sad and disappointed to see Luis go to Arsenal. With all due respect to them, I said to him that he was too good for Arsenal. I said if you score 30 goals for us and win the PFA Player of the Year, the press Player of the Year - I knew he was going to win them - "I told him Real or Barcelona will come for you.

"I think he got the wrong advice last year from people around him, from people saying he needed to play in the Champions League and it did not matter who it was for.

"I have experience of the Spanish clubs myself and I know if you play well they will come back and come back. I knew they'd be back for him as well. I just thought for his own sake, to get respect off the Liverpool fans, he had to give us at least one year.

"A lot of people might still think he should have given us one more, but my big dream was to play for Liverpool, and the foreign players' big dream is to play for Real Madrid or Barcelona, that's a fact.

"Seeking to build on last year's second place, Gerrard knows the last time Liverpool finished second in 2002 and 2009 there was a rapid decline. He says there is no reason to presume there will be a repeat."When we finished second in those cases, I don't think there was a genuine belief that we were going to go all the way to the wire," he said.

"Last year we were in it until the end and that has given us the belief that we are genuine title contenders."It is different when you finish second and you know you were never really in it. You are chasing. This time we were there, right at the end. We could have won it.

"As well as another title bid, Gerrard says he also hopes to convince the club's owners to extend his contract beyond this season. Although the manager and club say it is only a matter of time, contract talks are yet to start.

"Brendan has mentioned it a couple of times in the media but no talks have happened," said Gerrard.

"I'm sure we will talk in the future, but we will have to wait and see. I hope that I am here for more than one year, of course I do. But it is all about this season for me."

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