Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher has defended the behaviour of Luis Suarez by saying that any player would be interested in joining Real Madrid.
Suarez, currently in Brazil on international duty with Uruguay, said last month he wanted a "change of environment" and that it would be "very difficult to say 'no' to Real Madrid". But Carragher, who retired last season after 737 games for Liverpool, claimed that Suarez was guilty of little more than naïvety.
Last season Liverpool finished outside the Premier League top five for the fourth consecutive year and Carragher denied that he was particularly shocked to hear that Suarez wanted to leave. "Not really, no, because if you were honest, Luis Suarez is playing in a team that finished seventh in the Premier League, but he is one of the best players in the world," he said.
"It would be pretty naïve to think that no club would be interested in him. But if you read his quotes, they are not as controversial as has been made out."
Suarez is likely but not certain to join Real, and Carragher, who is to become Sky Sports' latest pundit, said that if he did not the striker would be swiftly forgiven by the fans. "Of course they will [forgive him]. He hasn't said anything derogatory about Liverpool, he has just said he'd be interested in going to Real Madrid. But then, thinking privately, I'm sure any player would. He made a couple of naïve comments in Uruguay, but nothing so bad that can't be sorted out. He has obviously had his head turned, but which player wouldn't? It's not to say it will be an issue when the season starts."
Carragher has no doubt that if Suarez did stay at Anfield, he could easily repair his relationship with the club, and would continue to give his very best.
The last time Liverpool had a world-class striker, Fernando Torres, they sold him to Chelsea for £50m in January 2011. "Torres wasn't the same player for about 18 months and downed tools and that's certainly what you don't want," said Carragher. "But with a character like Luis Suarez, I don't think that would be an issue and if the club were to keep him, I'm sure he would be as committed as ever.
"He has shown that already, not only on a weekly basis, but on a daily basis in training and I don't think Liverpool would ever have the problem that we had with Torres."
Jamie Carragher will be a pundit for Sky Sports' Premier League coverage from next season