As a statement of intent Liverpool committing Luis Suarez to a new deal is up there with the day they signed Kenny Dalglish as a replacement for Kevin Keegan. The Uruguayan has every right to be mentioned in the same breath as his illustrious predecessors in the No.7 shirt and he represents the main hope of Liverpool returning to the heights they scaled with those two.
Suarez’s conduct has at times been reprehensible but no one can dispute his ability. Steven Gerrard said in January Suarez was the best player he has ever shared a dressing room with and this season Suarez has shown why. With Aaron Ramsey he has been the stand-out player of the season so far, a status few could have envisaged during the summer when he agitated for a move away from Merseyside.
One man who remained convinced Suarez could be persuaded to stay, and perform, was Brendan Rodgers and this contract extension is a tribute to his firm but sensitive handling of the gifted 26-year-old striker.
It is not hard to see why Rodgers persisted. Suarez lifts Liverpool from an ordinary team, more likely to qualify for the Europa League than the Champions League, to potential title challengers. Retaining him gives Liverpool increased allure in the January transfer window, which in turn will strengthen the team’s Premier League challenge and so make the club even more attractive to Suarez.
It is a virtuous circle and one which Liverpool need to keep intact because the devil will be in the contract’s small print. It would be a surprise if there were not some clause offering Suarez an escape route should Liverpool fail to qualify for the Champions League. This will doubtless be more rigourously worded than in the previous deal which turned out to be less flexible than Suarez and his agent had thought.
For their part Liverpool have probably insisted on a clause preventing Suarez leaving for a rival domestic club, even for £60,000,001, £70,000,001, or whatever the release fee is. Rodgers will hope it never comes to that. As Tottenham have found, decent players can be found all over Europe, players who elevate a team from contenders to winners are rare.