Transfer news: 'We will welcome Luis Suarez back with open arms' says Liverpool defender Kolo Toure as the Uruguayan returns to the fold
Toure says Suarez has 'sorted the problem' with manager Brendan Rodgers
Sunday 18 August 2013
Liverpool defender Kolo Toure joked striker Luis Suarez could “do anything” and the players would welcome him back with open arms.
The Uruguay international, suspended for yesterday's 1-0 home win over Stoke, returned to training with the rest of the first team on Friday having been exiled by manager Brendan Rodgers.
Suarez's attitude and commitment was questioned by the Reds boss after the 26-year-old publicly criticised the club, claiming they had reneged on a deal to allow him to join a Champions League club if they bid £40million.
Arsenal made two attempts to trigger his release, including a now infamous offer of £40million plus £1, but Rodgers and principal owner John Henry have unequivocally stated he will not be sold.
Suarez's re-integration to the squad has been made much easier by the attitude of his team-mates, although Toure said that did not mean they condoned his previous behaviour.
“I think Suarez was defending himself and the club were defending what they wanted as well because they know by keeping him we are going to be really strong because he is one of the best strikers in the world,” said the centre-back, who made his competitive debut at Anfield after a free transfer move from Manchester City.
“For us it is really important to keep him. What the club did, for me, is right because we want to keep him.
”You would never want one of your best players going to another team.
“We want him to stay because this is a big club.
”It is nothing, for us we know football. It is big business.
“For a player like Suarez there is no problem, we love him.
”He can do anything. He just resolved the problem with the manager and we want him to score our goals - that is what we are looking for.
“The manager sorted it out with him. He (Rodgers) was very clever - and Steven Gerrard as well - they worked (on him) and we are happy he is back training with us again. That is great.”
In Suarez's continued absence - he is still serving the remainder of a 10-match ban imposed last season for biting Chelsea's Branislav Ivanovic in April which will not make him available until the end of September - fellow striker Daniel Sturridge was Liverpool's match-winner.
The England international has been sidelined most of the summer with an ankle ligament injury suffered on international duty in May but looked sharp with just a fortnight's training behind him.
While Liverpool created a number of chances they found Stoke goalkeeper Asmir Begovic in tremendous form and it required a clinical strike from Sturridge, firing through Robert Huth's legs from 20 yards, to win the game.
The closest Liverpool came to extending their lead was when midfielder Jordan Henderson's shot was tipped onto the post by Begovic in the second half.
Stoke barely threatened, although they could have scored first after Simon Mignolet flapped at a cross and Huth's volley rebounded off the crossbar.
While most of the action took place in Liverpool's final third, Toure put in assured competitive debut at the other end and could even have opened the scoring when he crashed a header against the frame of the goal in the first half.
The Ivory Coast international may be 32 but he may well provide the ideal replacement for the recently-retired Jamie Carragher.
“Kolo introduced himself to the crowd when he jumped about seven foot five in the first couple of minutes of the game - it was a wonderful leap and I think you could see his energy and enthusiasm,” said Rodgers.
“When we lost Jamie Carragher last year, we were losing real experience - but Kolo comes in and offers that. He was excellent.”
Even Toure could not prevent Stoke winning a penalty with three minutes to go when Daniel Agger handled former Reds midfielder Charlie Adam's free-kick three minutes from time,.but goalkeeper Simon Mignolet, another Reds player making his debut, more than made up for a shaky early display by not only saving Jon Walters' spot-kick but blocking substitute Kenwyne Jones' rebound.
Even so the Belgium international was outshone by Begovic, who produced a string of saves.
“Everyone knows how good Asmir is and he showed that,” said Stoke assistant manager Mark Bowen.
“He has shown since the day we came to the club what qualities he has got and the way he goes about his business is an example to others.”
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