PHUKET GAZETTE SPORTS – Quote of the day: Liverpool owner John W. Henry asked on Twitter: “What do you think they are smoking over there at the Emirates?”
PHUKET MEDIA WATCH
– World sports news selected by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community
PHUKET: Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers told Luis Suarez to think about the fans who have treated him like “a son” after the club’s American owner laughed off a bid from Arsenal for the striker’s services yesterday.
British media reported the north London club had offered 40 million and one pound (US$61.47mn/1.9bn Thai baht*) for Suarez prompting Liverpool owner John W. Henry to ask on Twitter: “What do you think they are smoking over there at Emirates?”
Arsenal’s unusual bid ties in with media reports that an offer of more than 40 million pounds triggers a clause in the Uruguay international’s contract that says Liverpool must inform the striker of their Premier League rivals’ interest.
“There’s no doubt the market these days for top players is very small so Luis will always be linked with top clubs,” Rodgers told reporters after Suarez made a cameo appearance in Liverpool’s 2-0 win over local club Melbourne Victory.
“But I think the support that he’s received from the supporters and the people of the city of Liverpool has been unrivalled.
“In the period of time, he’s missed a lot of games for the club through various reasons. And the people have stood by him like a son and really looked after him.
“So I’m sure whatever happens in the coming weeks, that will be in his mind because it’s certainly something you can never forget.”
Suarez was due to discuss his future with Rodgers in Melbourne after rampant speculation about his future went up a notch following reports Arsenal had made a second bid for the 26-year-old.
Suarez has said he wants to leave Liverpool to play in Spain, blaming the British media for making his life impossible in England.
Rodgers, who left Suarez on the bench until the last 20 minutes in front of more than 95,000 fans at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, said he had already shared several chats with his tempestuous striker since he landed in Melbourne.
Storm of criticism
Suarez, who signed for Liverpool from Ajax Amsterdam in January 2011 and was second top scorer in the Premier League with 23 goals last season, has tempered his brilliance on the pitch with a series of controversial misdemeanours.
He still has to serve six matches of a 10-match ban for biting Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic in April, which excludes pre-season friendlies.
Suarez also sparked a storm of criticism the previous season when he was found guilty of racially abusing Manchester United’s Patrice Evra and earned an eight-game suspension.
Rodgers had “nothing to report” on reports of the latest move by Arsenal, who have already had one bid for Suarez rejected by Liverpool.
“The only talks have been between me and Luis,” he said.
Suarez provided a reminder of his value to the club when his entry onto the MCG’s temporary soccer pitch sparked a thunderous roar from the terraces packed with red-clad fans.
While his body language on the pitch prompted debate about his current commitment, he signed off his brief appearance with some trademark trickery.
Receiving a pass from a corner, he jinked into the box and steered a low cross through a crowd of players for Iago Aspas to tap home.
“He’s a little bit tired at the moment,” Rodgers said. “He’s trained a double session on Monday after being off for three weeks so he was a little bit tired and, obviously, he came on and played that 20-odd minutes or so.”
Suarez was among the last players to leave the MCG turf, saluting cheering fans in a victory lap, some of whom may wonder whether it was a valedictory bow in Liverpool colours.
“He’s very much a Liverpool player,” Rodgers added. “Over the course of the next number of weeks we’ve got to get him up to speed.”
(*1 British pounds – 47.48 Thai baht)
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