Brendan Rodgers has admitted that Liverpool securing Champions League football for next season was paramount to keeping Luis Suarez at the club.
The Reds’ have already secured a top three finish, and despite losing to Chelsea at Anfield on Sunday, could still win the Premier League with victories against Crystal Palace and Newcastle Utd, if Manchester City slip in any of their final three games.
Suarez tried to force his way out of his contract at Liverpool last summer when the club finished seventh and failed to qualify for UEFA’s elite competition.
However, after the 27-year-old Uruguayan signed a new contract in December and helping the club achieve qualification this season, big Champions League nights will return to Anfield next season and there’ll be good soccer odds on Liverpool going all the way.
“That was key to it. That’s what he was missing,” Rodgers is quoted by Sky Sports as saying.
“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.
“I’ve convinced players to stay and enjoy the style of football, which they do, but they also want to be competing in the best competitions.”
Suarez staying at Liverpool last summer was largely down to the club’s owners not being pressured into selling him, with principal owner John Henry going to the press to publicly deny Suarez his exit.
Rodgers also praised the work of the owners in the Suarez-Liverpool success story.
“He’s a guy that is strong-willed and strong-minded,” he added.
“The vision he had for the club was to keep the best players and to build with those players. We had to show our power as a club last summer.
“You see a lot of clubs where the power is with the players. But the power at our club is the football club itself. That will always be the case.
“The owners were brilliant. Obviously once he knew we weren’t going to sell him and why it was important for him to stay, he stayed and he has had a remarkable season.”
Suarez, who received the PFA Player of the Year award on Sunday night, has scored 30 goals in 31 appearances for Liverpool this season.