Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers insists Luis Suarez’s impressive form this season proves the Reds were right to force the Uruguayan to stay at Anfield.
Suarez made repeated attempts to engineer a move to Arsenal in the close-season and became involved in a row with Rodgers after Liverpool refused to sell him.
The controversial striker, desperate to join a Champions League team, claimed Arsenal’s bid of £40,000,001 (HK$498 million) triggered a clause in his contract allowing him to leave for that price, while he also accused Rodgers of reneging on an agreement between them which he claimed allowed him to leave for a side playing in Europe’s elite competition.
Liverpool owner John Henry was unequivocally opposed to selling his team’s prize asset to a rival and that stance appears to have been rewarded with Suarez scoring six goals in four league matches to help Rodgers’ side climb to third in the Premier League table.
And Rodgers is adamant Suarez should now have no reason to want to leave as he could well be playing in the Champions League with his current side next season.
“This was the place for Luis to showcase his talents. He is a player who deserves to be playing at the highest level of European football but we believe he can do that at Liverpool,” Rodgers said.
“There is no greater stage for him than a club like this and once the window was shut, like we thought, there was never going to be an issue.
“He is one of the hardest-working players that is in love with football I’ve seen and once the window shut he has been brilliant.
“He is maturing as a man. He is 26, father of two now, and I think the maturity in his game and personal life is there to see.
“Everyone talks about his goals and work-rate but I’ve seen an improvement in his football ability and his maturity.
“That really bodes well for us. We won’t get carried away, we have to keep our concentration and continue to work very hard.”
Rodgers admits he understands why Arsenal tried to take advantage of Suarez’s unrest.
But he was delighted with the way Liverpool’s owners stuck to their guns, while also saluting the rest of the players for successfully blocking out the distraction.
“I understand why Arsenal would want to buy a player of Luis’ quality because he is one of the leading strikers in the world but it was something that was never going to happen,” Rodgers said.
“For us and the institution we are we certainly weren’t going to sell to a rival, a competitor, and that was something which was very strong from the off.
“You have to give credit to the players themselves. It certainly wasn’t an easy situation.
“It was also a great credit to the owners and the leadership of the club that they stood by what my thoughts were as a manager and they backed it all the way.”