Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 18 December 2014

Suarez 'worth as much as Bale'

Luis Suarez, pictured, appeared as a second-half substitute in Steven Gerrard's testimonial against Olympiacos
Luis Suarez, pictured, appeared as a second-half substitute in Steven Gerrard's testimonial against Olympiacos

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers remains insistent striker Luis Suarez is not for sale, but admits if he were he would be worth a sum closer to the £100million being touted for Gareth Bale.

Real Madrid, who were expected to be the summer suitors for the Uruguay international, are chasing the Tottenham midfielder with a reported world-record bid.

Rodgers argues, with some justification, if Bale is worthy of a nine-figure sum then Suarez, whose 23 Premier League goals last season was two more than the Welshman, must be valued at far more than the £40million plus £1 offered by Arsenal in their second bid.

Reports have suggested Suarez is considering handing in a transfer request and taking legal action in order to leave, but Rodgers remained steadfast in his stance.

"It is very, very simple: he is a top player and we don't want to sell him," said the Reds boss, whose spoke with Suarez on Friday. "We are trying to build something here so there is nothing new to report.

"Of all the speculation which has happened from the end of the season, and all the clubs he was supposed to be going to, we've had two bids from one club and that was nowhere near the valuation in the market for a top player.

"Until there is anything dramatic that changes he is still working, we have to get him up to speed for when he is fit.

"I was on the phone last night quite a bit with the owners and they know what we are trying to do: we are trying to build a group up and we are in no hurry to sell Luis or any other player.

"Of course, throughout the world every player will have a value but you only have to look at the market and £40million and £1....Gareth Bale they are talking about nine figures.

"Gareth Bale and Luis Suarez were arguably the two best players in the Premier League and you can't say Gareth Bale is valued at more than 100 per cent more than Luis Suarez.

"Every single player will be open to that (right bid), but it is not even something we are thinking about it. We are very strong in the belief in what we are doing and there will be no-one moving out of here."

Suarez was warmly welcomed by a sell-out crowd for captain Steven Gerrard's testimonial on his first appearance at Anfield since being banned for biting Branislav Ivanovic in April.

His second-half substitute appearance in the 2-0 victory over Olympiacos, settled by goals in either half by Joe Allen and Jordan Henderson, was far from his usual all-out action role, but he by no means looked like a player angling for a move.

"It is not quite the reception you guys (the media) thought," said Rodgers. "It just shows you the class of the Liverpool supporters. There has been a lot of speculation about Luis and what sort of reception he would get, but they love their own and Luis is still very much part of the team.

"He can't start the season because he is suspended, but they have given him everything and, even when they may have had an excuse (not to), they backed him to the hilt and it was great for them to do that.

"He was probably humbled by it. There may have been some trepidation in terms of the reaction he would get, but people who have been at this club much longer than me and know the Liverpool way always respect their own.

"Luis is still very much a part of what we are doing and that was another message from them that they love him. We only want players who are totally 100 per cent committed to being here and I've spoken to Luis countless times over the summer.

"Speculation can be difficult for players. There are a lot of stories that have gone on around Luis but there is no change in him. He is working well and he got a great reception here today.

"The more he is around the group and the great support here - in addition to days like today - he will understand. If ever anyone wanted to know the status of Liverpool it was while we were on tour and days like today.

"It is a truly remarkable club and you don't want to leave one of the biggest clubs in the world in a hurry, and I think he knows that."

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