Gerrard tells Suarez he can do better than Arsenal
Liverpool captain reveals he had offer from abroad last year
Liverpool midfielder Steven Gerrard believes the club’s season depends on keeping hold of Luis Suarez - and says a move to Arsenal ‘doesn’t make sense at all’. See PA story SOCCER Liverpool. Photo credit should read: Martin Rickett/PA Wire
Steven Gerrard has told Luis Suarez a better career move than Arsenal is inevitable – and submitted as evidence the revelation he rejected a chance to leave Liverpool for a Champions League club, believed to be Bayern Munich, only last summer.
The Liverpool captain is being honoured for his 15-year service with a testimonial against Olympiakos today, when Suarez is expected to play at Anfield for the first time since biting Branislav Ivanovic in April and subsequently publicising his desire to quit the club. Gerrard himself came close to leaving Liverpool, for Chelsea in 2004 and 2005, before deciding to remain with his boyhood team. That commitment did not prevent enquiries from clubs such as Real Madrid in later years and, Gerrard confessed, another European team only 12 months ago while he was recovering from injury.
“I had a chance to leave last year,” said the England captain. “It was for a club in the Champions League, not a Premier League club, but I wasn’t tempted. I’ve been through that before.”
Gerrard refused to name the interested club but it is understood that it came from Bayern, who ended the season as European champions. Now Gerrard believes that that level of interest in a player then aged 32 should be instructive to Suarez. Arsenal are the only club so far to have bid for the disillusioned striker and Liverpool will not countenance selling the 26-year-old to a Premier League rival for £40 million plus one pound.
The midfielder explained: “That is the message for Luis. Move on if you want, further down the line, but a player of his calibre should wait for the big one to come to him. He deserves to play for one of the best teams in the world, a Barcelona or a Real Madrid. They will come calling for him again. I am hoping he gives us another year. Maybe it will be time for him to go next year or the year after. I don’t think it is the right time for him to go just yet.”
Gerrard admits Liverpool’s prospects of ending a four-year absence from the Champions League next season rests on the Uruguay international. “What we can achieve this season depends on whether he stays or goes in my opinion,” said the midfielder, who fears the divide between Liverpool and the top four could become permanent without a recovery soon.
“That is my main worry,” the 33-year-old admitted. “I think that is the main worry for every Liverpool fan. It is no different for me as a player. The only difference is that I am in a position to do something about it on the pitch. I am sure all genuine Liverpool fans have that same concern and worry – that it becomes permanent and we can’t bridge that gap – but we’ve got to keep fighting.
“I have confidence from looking at the last six months of last season that we can prove people wrong and break into the top four. But certain things have got to happen to help us do that and one of them is the main subject on everyone’s lips – Luis Suarez. If we lose him we are taking steps backwards. If we keep him and add to him we will have a much better chance.”
Liverpool have bid £21.8m (€25m) for the Atletico Madrid forward Diego Costa but, with several big money targets missed out on, Gerrard insists the club cannot afford to sell Suarez, who has three years remaining on his contract. He added: “Can you imagine the reaction if the club just allowed Luis to go and to go to one of our rivals? Imagine the reaction around here if they just gave in easy. I think the club are doing the right thing by wanting to keep their best players.
“Look at Tottenham’s stance on Luka Modric and now Gareth Bale. They don’t make it easy for sides who want their top players and we need to do the same. That sends out the right message to supporters. It shows the supporters we mean business, that we are capable of challenging, and the only way to do that is by keeping your top players.”
Equally, Gerrard believes Liverpool have to demonstrate their intent to Suarez by landing major targets. He said: “The club has a responsibility to attract top players and to make all our jobs easier in trying to get back in there. I know they are trying their best to do that but what we have to accept is there are other big clubs out there offering big money, and if they bid more than you there is nothing you can do.”
Olympiakos, against whom Gerrard scored a crucial goal en route to Liverpool’s Champions League triumph in 2005, are playing the testimonial for free as the midfielder attempts to raise over £1m for his charity. Former team-mates Robbie Fowler and Jamie Carragher will play some part in the game.