Luis Suarez talked up by Mamadou Sakho as Liverpool open contract talks with striker

The Uruguayan has two-and-a-half years remaining on his current deal

Liverpool defender Mamadou Sakho has hailed striker Luis Suarez's wholehearted contribution to the team - and the Uruguayan is expected to be asked to make a long-term commitment.

Suarez is the Barclays Premier League's top scorer with 17 goals in 11 matches this season and won the Football Supporters' Federation's player of the year award on Monday.

Despite trying to manoeuvre a move in the summer because of the lack of Champions League football, Suarez's form since returning from a 10-match suspension is such that managing director Ian Ayre has opened new contract talks with the player's agent in Barcelona.

The 26-year-old has two-and-a-half years remaining on his current deal but such is his importance to the side Liverpool are understandably keen to tie him down.

And while the final decision is likely to be Suarez's and based on whether the second-placed Reds can secure a return to the Champions League this season, summer signing Sakho has been impressed with what he has seen on the pitch.

"For sure, it's tough against Luis because he's a world-class striker. That helps us improve," Sakho told liverpoolfc.com of his training experience with the Uruguayan.

"I'm lucky enough to play with him, but the most important thing is that Luis gives everything for the team.

"He really makes himself available for the group just like all the players here and that's why Liverpool are continuing to make progress with every game."

Any contact offer for Suarez would have to reflect his pivotal role in the side and would probably make him the highest-paid player at the club, dwarfing his current wages of around £100,000 a week.

That would also be a significant statement of intent by owners Fenway Sports Group, which has built its business model more on reducing expenditure on salary - highlighted by the loaning out of previous first-choice goalkeeper Jose Reina to Napoli and offloading the likes of Andy Carroll and Stewart Downing to West Ham at a considerable loss.

But while building the squad has all been about finding younger players with a higher resale value, FSG has always left room for manoeuvre when it comes to paying top money for genuine world-class performers.

Captain Steven Gerrard is currently the club's best-paid player, but with the 33-year-old midfielder currently contracted only to 2015 and the increased prospect of a money-spinning return to the Champions League there are exceptions to be made.

Suarez would certainly fit into that category and not only his form but his performances this season proved principal owner John Henry was right to be so dismissive of a £40,000,001 bid from Arsenal in the summer.

The Uruguayan's value has rocketed in the last four months and while that may not deter the likes of Real Madrid, who were reported to be interested before their world-record move for Gareth Bale, Liverpool are doing all they can to hold on to their prize asset.

Qualifying for Europe's elite club competition would go a long way to helping their cause and Sakho believes it is in their grasp after a 5-0 demolition of fellow contenders Tottenham at the weekend.

"I think it simply shows that Liverpool are right in the mix and that we want to remain in and around the top of the table," Sakho added.

"It's a very strong message that we've sent and while our main aim is to be in the places for the Champions League, we will see how things stand towards the end of the season to see if we are in the running for the title itself.

"But the first target is to get back on the European stage once again."

PA

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