Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard claims striker Luis Suarez transforms from a quiet family man into a fighter the moment he steps onto the pitch.
The Uruguay international scored his 20th goal of the season - the first Reds player to do so since Fernando Torres in 2009-10 — in the weekend’s 5-0 win over Norwich.
Suarez, who turns 26 on Thursday, has become a talisman for the side, easing the burden on Gerrard who has carried the club for the best part of a decade.
Suarez has attracted his fair share of criticism after a race row with Patrice Evra and admitting diving to try to win a penalty. But Gerrard believes the general portrayal of his team-mate is often inaccurate, although he accepts when it comes to playing football Suarez has only one aim and that is to win.
“He is very quiet in the dressing room and around the place,” said the England captain. “He is a family man: every time you ask him what he is doing he is with his family. “When he comes onto the pitch he turns into a fighter, he turns into a winner.”
Gerrard, yesterday, said Suarez deserved to play in the Champions League but could not say whether not qualifying would result in the Uruguayan being lured away by other clubs.
With Liverpool seven points adrift of fourth place their chances of re-joining Europe’s elite club competition may have to wait until at least next season.
But the Reds captain was in no doubt Suarez was integral to the Merseysiders’ chances of success in the future.
“I think he is world class. He has everything and we are very lucky to have him in our team and at our club,” said the midfielder, speaking at a Football Writers’ Association gala tribute dinner in his honour. We want him to stay for a long time. If Liverpool are going to be successful in years to come Luis Suarez will be a big part of that.
“When you are trying to achieve these big prizes against top players and top sides in the league Luis Suarez is someone you want in your team.”
Two goals behind RVP
Suarez is only two goals behind Manchester United striker Robin van Persie (18) in the running for the Premier League top scorer and Gerrard believes he should also be in contention for the player of the year award.
“I certainly hope so, he deserves that accolade,” said the 32-year-old. “I’d go as far as to say he’s probably the best player I’ve played with, which is some accolade considering the players I’ve played with — some fantastic players. I’ve played with world-class players - Fernando Torres, Jamie Carragher, Gary McAllister — but Luis Suarez is probably top of that pile.”
Manager Brendan Rodgers is looking to bolster his squad before the end of the transfer window, although he does not have the finances to bring in anyone who could remotely be regarded as world-class.