Reds fans will back Suarez, says MD
Ayre insists supporters will not turn on their striker even though he wants to leave Liverpool
Liverpool striker Luis Suarez can expect to retain the support of the team's fans even though he's agitating for a move a way from the Premier League club, managing director Ian Ayre said.
The 26-year-old Uruguayan has been linked with Real Madrid, Chelsea and Arsenal after he said he would like to leave the 18-time English champions during interviews at last month's Confederations Cup.
Ayre has confirmed that Liverpool rejected an offer from Arsenal for Suarez, who scored 30 goals last season. "I don't think anyone will be against him at this point," Ayre said.
Suarez, who joined from Ajax for €26.5 million (HK$261 million) in 2011, will miss the first six games of the season wherever he plays due to a 10-match ban for biting an opponent. He was also banned for eight games a year previously for racial abuse.
"He only needs to do what he did last season and everyone will feel he's in the right place and he should carry on getting the support that he deserves and gets from Liverpool," Ayre said. "We'd love to see Luis put on a Liverpool shirt for this season … and we hope that once he gets back things will settle down."
Even with Suarez's goals, Liverpool finished seventh in the league, failing to qualify for Europe.
Suarez has said he wants to move to a club playing in the Champions League, a competition Liverpool haven't been in since 2009. He also cited critical treatment from the UK media as a reason to quit the country.
"This is an ambitious young player, he's talked in the media about wanting to play in the Champions League and all these things," Ayre said. "It's our job to convince Luis that this is the right place to achieve those things."
Ayre wouldn't detail the team's targets for next season, but pointed to this summer's recruitment drive as proof the Reds, owned since 2010 by the US-based Fenway Sports Group, would try to secure a top-four finish to reach the Champions League.
At £9 million, goalkeeper Simon Mignolet is the most expensive recruit and he has been joined by Spanish attackers Iago Aspas and Luis Alberto as well as defender Kolo Toure.
Still, the club failed in their ambitious bid when Shakhtar Donetsk midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan chose Borussia Dortmund. "We've got other people in our sights and we'll keep plugging away," Ayre said. "But we'll do some more business, there's no doubt about that."
Liverpool are on a tour of Asia, where the team remain popular. A match at the 100,000-capacity Melbourne Cricket Ground in Australia was sold out in hours.
That popularity, said Ayre, had helped recruit talent even though the team haven't been competing for top honours of late. "We've brought in great players who recognise we're not in the Champions League but see the size of this club, see the size of the opportunity and what we're trying to build and want to be part of it," Ayre said.