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Tuesday 18 September 2018

Rodgers: Suarez sees our progress

Reds boss dismisses transfer talk

Brendan Rodgers. Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images
Brendan Rodgers. Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images
Luis Suarez. Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

LIVERPOOL manager Brendan Rodgers has dismissed the suggestion that striker Luis Suarez might again attempt to leave the club.

Captain Steven Gerrard said in an interview this week that he thought Suarez, who had tried to manufacture a move away from Anfield in the summer, would reconsider his position at the end of the campaign depending on whether the club had qualified for the Champions League.

Rodgers has always insisted he has had nothing but commitment from the Uruguay international, for whom the club rejected a £40,000,001 bid from Arsenal, since he returned to action following his suspension earlier in the season, and he did not deviate from that viewpoint.

"I haven't been given anything to the contrary," the Reds boss said.

"Looking and speaking to him, Luis is as happy as he has ever been.

"He recognises we have a real genuine chance this year of breaking in there.

"Last year was about transition and the second season was about improvement and he has seen that.

"He had a difficult summer but he has come back and he is more mature and his performance level has been really high.

"He sees a genuine chance for us to make that (top four). He is happy here.

"From a club perspective, we made a stance last summer, not only for Luis but for every player.

"If we think it is time to sell a player, we will. If not, we won't."

Rodgers was also forced to defend suggestions that Gerrard has become the weak link in Liverpool's midfield.

Questions were asked of Liverpool's three-man midfield of Gerrard, Jordan Henderson and Lucas Leiva after last weekend's defeat at Arsenal.

 

Critics

Critics were quick to point out the 33-year-old Gerrard appeared to have little influence on the game from a passing or running point of view, while speed has never been an attribute Lucas has been blessed with.

While Rodgers did not exactly dismiss suggestions his midfield lacked the necessary pace to get beyond opponents in support of the front two of Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge, he did counter the argument.

"We have got very good players and, in that game, Arsenal had outstanding ability," he added.

"In fairness to Steven and Lucas, they worked very hard. Steven picked up an injury (to his hip) and struggled in that part of the game because of that.

"There's no doubt in the modern game you have to have that mobility in midfield, but you also need the balance.

"You also need players who are technically good, can play and can participate in the game tactically and of course the modern game gets quicker every year.

"That is an area you need mobility in and for us, going forward, it is something, as with every area, we will try to improve."

Liverpool will expect to bounce back from last weekend's defeat by Arsenal when they take on troubled Fulham at Anfield.

Fulham lie 16th in the Premier League, two points above the relegation zone, and boss Martin Jol knows that his side will be up against it when they take on the likes of Suarez tomorrow.

Jol said: "Suarez is one of the best in the world and he will prove that. He will score a lot of goals. He would have been top scorer last year if he had not been suspended (for biting Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic).

"(Daniel) Sturridge has also had a big impact since he went to Liverpool. They are very good going forward with these top players up front.

"Maybe you could stretch your imagination a bit and say they could be title contenders. They are strong and they will be going for a top-four spot this year."

Jol will be without Sascha Riether after he was banned for three matches for stamping on Manchester United's Adnan Januzaj towards the end of last Saturday's 3-1 defeat at Craven Cottage.

Fulham initially asked the Football Association for clarification on its retrospective action rule after Riether was charged with violent conduct.

But Jol has now accepted his right-back's punishment, which starts with him missing tomorrow's match.

Jol said: "If he did do it deliberately, it is fair enough to get three games. The referee didn't see it. I didn't see it, but they decided to give him that punishment and people around me said it was probably something deliberate.

"He said it was not deliberate, but he apologised to the club, to the fans and to us. It is not what you need, but we move on."

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