Liverpool never took Arsenal's Luis Suarez bid seriously, insists Brendan Rodgers
Arsène Wenger was right to admit that Arsenal bidding one pound over £40m for Luis Suarez could have been considered "provocative". That was one word for it. Liverpool's manager Brendan Rodgers has now supplied a few more, including "derogatory" and lacking class, while claiming that his club merely laughed when they received the offer.
It sounded from his tone, however, as though the laugh was of the bitter variety. "I think Arsenal were ill advised on that, to say the least," he said. "Arsenal as a football club always had great integrity historically and so, when that bid came through, I can only say it was one of the worst pieces of information they ever received.
"It was never going to succeed. At the time we certainly saw the bid as derogatory. The two clubs have historically had class, it has been the hallmark of both, but whether it was £40m and one pound or £40m and one penny, our fight was always to keep him here because he is a top player."
Once Suarez made it clear in July that he wanted to leave, Liverpool appealed in vain to his sense of loyalty and gratitude for the way the club and its supporters had stuck by him amid his disciplinary aberrations.
Rodgers was then forced to take a harder line and make the Uruguayan train on his own. "I'm sure all the players are looking to the manager in a situation like that to see what happens," he said. "It cannot fester and be allowed to become a cancer within the group.
"No matter how difficult the situation was, we were leading up to our first game of the season having had a brilliant pre-season and nothing could be allowed to stand in the way of our preparation for that. My job is to protect the club and it was important during that time that the power of the club was seen."
Whatever Suarez's long-term intentions – which could well depend on Liverpool securing a Champions League place for next season – he appears to have knuckled down, even before his 10-match suspension for biting Branislav Ivanovic finished at the end of September.
Six goals in four league games, including a hat-trick against West Bromwich Albion last Saturday, have confirmed his value to the team and illustrated what Rodgers believes is a greater sense of responsibility.
"I see an improvement in his game and a maturity in his overall personality," the manager said. "You learn from any tough period in your life, and reflect on it, and I think that's happened. I think his football intelligence is improving. You can't always nutmeg someone. You can't always try the tricks, especially if you're dropping in near the halfway line."
In Suarez's absence, Daniel Sturridge rose brilliantly to the challenge of becoming the main striker and now Liverpool have adopted a 3-5-2 formation to suit them both. Sturridge has 10 goals already this season and Rodgers says of him: "Daniel is a big talent. I've said that from when he came in. I genuinely believe he can be at Luis's level in the next couple of years."
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