Liverpool striker Luis Suarez is 'trying to change' says Brendan Rodgers
Liverpool host Tottenham at Anfield this weekend
Friday 08 March 2013
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has praised striker Luis Suarez for the transformation he is undergoing as a person and a player this season.
The Uruguay international is the league's leading scorer with 21 goals this season but is still a hate figure to many opposition fans because of his chequered history since arriving in this country.
Last year's eight-match ban for racially abusing Manchester United's Patrice Evra will not be forgotten in a hurry while a reputation, although diminished, for diving still dogs him.
There has been much speculation that those factors will contribute to Suarez not winning player of the year honours but Rodgers insists that would be unfair.
"His consistency this year has been phenomenal," said the Reds boss.
"He is a remarkable man. What I have admired from close hand is this is a guy who is trying to change.
"He has come in here and been labelled many things - sometimes maybe, for me, as because he is a foreign player he will get accused more.
"If a British player dives we'll laugh and find it funny but when it's Luis Suarez he is a diver.
"But this is a guy who is trying to turn around his life and adapt to the culture and you can clearly see that."
Rodgers said the 26-year-old's intention to change had not reduced his desire on the pitch, highlighted by his hat-trick in the win at Wigan last weekend.
"There is no correlation. He has a will to win," he added.
"There are cultural differences to where he has worked and played before and you can see he has clearly adapted to that.
"He was struggling a bit with an injury last weekend, believe it or not, and nine out of 10 players wouldn't have played but his threshold for pain is so high.
"He wanted to play and to have someone like that in your team gives you great hope and gives great inspiration to other players because he really wants to win for Liverpool."
Rodgers believes Suarez can go on to break Robbie Fowler's Liverpool record of 28 goals in a Premier League campaign.
Additionally, the South American has scored 28 goals in all competitions this campaign and only Fernando Torres, with 33 in 2007-08, has reached 30 for the club in any of the last 16 seasons.
Suarez also needs just one to notch 50 since joining the club, which he could do in his 90th appearance against Tottenham on Sunday.
Regarding Fowler's record, Rodgers said: "The thing with Luis is he is really hungry and I would expect him over these last 10 games to go close to it.
"He is on 21 goals now and with 10 to go there will be more from him, and if there is not what you know is he will give 150% on the field and won't give any defenders a moment's rest.
"He is a master marksman who has been really efficient this season but we are not a one-man team as that is disrespectful to our other players who have been outstanding - Steven Gerrard has the most assists in the Premier League this season."
The January arrival of Daniel Sturridge, fit again to face Spurs after a thigh injury, has eased the burden on Suarez as the £12million signing has contributed five goals in seven matches.
Prior to that Suarez was carrying the team's attacking threat on his own, but Rodgers said he did not place an extra demands on the striker.
"Players have enough pressure in the games and put enough pressure on themselves so there is absolutely no way," the Northern Irishman said.
"Knowing the character he is, he wants to win, that is the background and culture he is from, so I didn't need to put him under any unnecessary pressure.
"If anything, I wanted to make sure I alleviated that pressure so he could go and enjoy his football."
Suarez himself is relishing his recent good run.
"I don't know if I am in the very best scoring form of my life, but certainly I am enjoying a bit of what every striker needs and that is a little bit of luck," he told liverpoolfc.com.
"Last season, chances weren't going in, whereas this year they are.
"I do set myself targets but as a striker I like to keep them to myself."
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