Jordan Henderson has outlined the influence Luis Suarez had on his career, and warned that Liverpool will need to be “on our guard” against Atletico Madrid.
Suarez is expected to start for Atletico in Wednesday’s clash at Anfield, having been reduced to a substitutes’ role in the previous meeting in Madrid.
It will be the 34-year-old’s second trip back to the Reds’ home since leaving in 2014, having scored one and assisted another in Barcelona’s 3-0 win in the Champions League semi-finals in 2019.
With Liverpool able to seal progress to the last 16 with victory in this week’s tie, Henderson is hoping a player who can pose “a lot of challenges” will not spoil his former side’s party.
“I think we all know he’s [been] a top player for a long time, produced so many good moments at Liverpool,” the captain told reporters.
“I learned a lot from him while he was here, I’m quite close to him, speak to him now and again.
“But he’s a world-class player and he causes a lot of problems for defences. He’s always in and around the goal, and if he gets a chance I’m sure he’ll take it.
“We’ve got to be on our guard with him – not only him, they’ve got world-class players all over. But certainly Luis is a top striker and will cause any team problems.”
Henderson admitted that his conversations with Suarez were “not that often” and brushed past a question on which language they spoke given the striker’s relatively poor English.
But the importance of Suarez to the Liverpool midfielder’s career is clear, with Henderson paying tribute to him as a role model.
“I think he helped me a lot when he was at Liverpool,” he continued.
“[The] mentality side, how he was in training, he always wanted to win, the things that he played through in terms of pain barriers.
“He just wanted to get out, play football and try do his best for the team.
“I took a lot from him when he was here, I think he helped me massively, made me grow in confidence as a player.
“I had a good relationship off the pitch, but also on the pitch as well.”
With Adam Lallana having been applauded by the Kop after Saturday’s 2-2 draw with Brighton, Henderson was asked whether Suarez should be given similar treatment.
“I think so. I think when Luis was here he was phenomenal for a number of years. He was outstanding,” he said.
“And I think the fans know that, the fans will appreciate that and what he did at this football club.
“I don’t think Luis will be too bothered, but of course after the game it would be nice for him to get a nice reception from the crowd.”