• Premier League

Rodgers: No one could love Suarez like we do

ESPN staff
April 29, 2014
ESPN FC: Rodgers critical of Chelsea

Brendan Rodgers says Luis Suarez has found his home at Liverpool and hopes the love the club give him will keep him at Anfield.

Suarez was named PFA Player of the Year on Sunday and his impressive Premier League form, which has inspired Liverpool's surprise title charge, has attracted renewed interest from Real Madrid.

But as Europe's biggest and richest clubs plan their summer transfer strategies, Rodgers is confident Liverpool will not have to persuade Suarez to say for the second year in succession.

"Luis understands he may not get the same love he does at Liverpool from anywhere else," Rodgers said. "From the first year, he knew I would shape the team around his qualities. He loves the city and the supporters.

"Also, guys like Steven Gerrard talked to him telling him there was an opportunity to be a legend at the club."

Suarez has scored 30 Premier League goals this season despite missing the first six games through suspension after biting Chelsea's Branislav Ivanovic last season.

His form is an indication of how settled he is at Liverpool, on and off the pitch, and Rodgers claims his wife Sofia, who he married in 2009, is very much at home in the city too.

"She's a great woman and offers him great stability in his life," Rodgers said. "She tells him straight and direct. She loves Liverpool, she loves the city, she loves the camaraderie with the other players' wives. So she's a real pillar in his life.

"They've been together for a long time. Luis travelled across the world to find her again. It's an incredible story. She left Uruguay and went to Barcelona with her parents. He wanted to move to Europe so he would have the chance to meet up with her again.

"When he went to Holland, he was only 17 and had gone to Groningen, he asked the coach for a few days off. On those days off, he travelled to Barcelona to go and get her, to bring her back, and they've been together ever since."

The Liverpool love-in with Suarez has been one of the narratives of the season but Rodgers admitted if his team had not secured Champions League football the story would have damaged the chances of a happy ending.

He said: "For players like that, it's important that they can play at the big level. I've watched Champions League football all my coaching life and I've been to matches this season, both here and in Europe, and I've thought that a player of Luis Suarez's ability has to be playing at this level.

"His loyalty in staying at Liverpool, to continue to fight for the club to get us there, is remarkable really. Hopefully he gets the rewards for that with those big European nights next season."

Suarez has undergone a major transformation from the player who, along with his representatives, agitated for a move away from Anfield last summer and was under fire for his behaviour on the pitch.

Rodgers said: "I think there's been a remarkable turnaround for a player who has been vilified. Some may say he brought it on himself but it's great to see someone change and to be stood up there winning the PFA award. He's a real humble guy.

"What people don't see with Luis is that he's a very, very intelligent man off the field. Sometimes in the past that intelligence on the field hasn't been so much - but that imagination is part of how we work."

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