Rodgers says Champions League soccer vital to Suarez happiness
Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers has admitted that Champions League qualification was vital to keeping Luis Suarez happy at Anfield.
Suarez, who was named the Professional Footballers’ Association’s Player of the Year on Sunday, came close to leaving Liverpool last summer after asking to leave for a club playing in the Champions League before being persuaded to stay on Merseyside.
Suarez has inspired Liverpool’s title charge this season and they have already guaranteed themselves a place in the Champions League next season.
Rodgers is aware reaching Europe’s premier competition is imperative to match the ambitions of players like Suarez.
"That was key to it. That’s what he was missing," said Rodgers.
"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."
Rodgers also feels the love of the fans played a huge part in persuading Suarez to change his mind and stay at Anfield last summer.
"He probably would not get that sort of devotion elsewhere," added Rodgers. "I think he understands that.
"Maybe there would come a point in his life where he might think that he has achieved what he wants to [at Liverpool]."
Rodgers also praised Liverpool owner John W Henry for standing firm when Suarez wanted to leave and Arsenal made a bid for the Uruguayan’s services.
"He’s a guy that is strong-willed and strong-minded," noted Rodgers.
"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."
Rodgers’ statement comes as Tuesday’s press report that Real Madrid are preparing a big money bid to try and tempt the Uruguayan away from Anfield this summer.