• Champions League

Suarez: I'll stay even without Champions League

ESPN staff
March 4, 2014
Liverpool owner John Henry revealed that Luis Suarez decided to ignore his £40m release clause that was activated by Arsenal over the summer

Luis Suarez has vowed to stay at Liverpool next season whether they qualify for the Champions League or not.

Having signed a new long-term contract at Anfield in December, it was reported that the deal included a £70 million buyout clause which could be activated if Liverpool failed to finish in the top four this season.

The striker admits he wants to play in the Champions League again having last featured in the group stages for Ajax in December 2010 before his £22.8 million move to Liverpool a month later.

Brendan Rodgers' side are six points clear of fifth-placed Tottenham, while Manchester United are a distant 14 points behind them.

However, asked in an interview with FourFourTwo magazine whether he would stay at Anfield if Liverpool failed to finish in the top four, Suarez said: "I think so. I signed my new contract because I'm very happy here and I want to stay where I'm enjoying football and life. Playing in the Champions League isn't dependent on that."

Suarez has been in exceptional form this season and sits atop the Premier League scoring charts with 24 goals to his name, six ahead of his strike partner Daniel Sturridge.

He scored Liverpool's opener in their 3-0 win at Southampton last weekend to halt a run of five games without a goal - and has admitted he would be happy to surrender the Golden Boot as long as his side ended their four-year Champions League exile.

"I'd actually prefer not to win this Golden Boot and for Liverpool to qualify for the Champions League this season," said Suarez.

"Any player would miss the Champions League. We've not been good enough since I've been here to qualify, but this could definitely be our year.

"It would be a frustration not to get fourth because we've done everything possible and given our maximum to qualify.

"Everyone says Champions League nights at Anfield are amazing - memories you guard forever. It would be an unforgettable experience and it's been too long since that happened. I think to finish in the top three, which is still possible, would be incredible with the players we have in the squad."

Suarez, meanwhile, is keen to change perceptions of the incidents which tarnished his reputation as one of the world's finest strikers.

On international duty with Uruguay, he has again defended his infamous handball against Ghana at the 2010 World Cup.

"I did nothing evil to anyone," he told the Uruguayan FA's official website of the quarter final in which he prevented Ghana from taking the lead in the last minute by handling the ball.

Suarez was sent off but Asamoah Gyan failed to convert the resulting penalty and, with the match ending 1-1, Uruguay claimed victory after a shootout.

The Liverpool striker, who had said after the game that his was "the real 'hand of God,'" has spoken out again. He said: "

"I stick with the feeling of having helped my team," he said before the friendly with Austria. "I stopped a goal, and I believe that it is worse when you stop a goal and injure an opponent, seriously injure them, and get sent off for that.

"Stopping a goal with my hand I believe did nothing evil to anyone -- it was just stopping a goal."

He insisted Gyan should bear the responsibility for Ghana's failure to progress, adding: "The referee did the right thing -- he sent me off and [Ghana] had a penalty. But the taker was a Ghana player, not me."

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