Steven Gerrard has warned that Liverpool's season depends on whether they can keep hold of Luis Suárez. The captain has urged the Uruguayan striker to stay at Anfield and said that if Suárez eventually leaves he should consider going only to Real Madrid or Barcelona.
Gerrard believes an in-from Suárez could make the difference for Liverpool as they chase a Champions League place, having finished seventh last season.
"It's difficult every season to finish in the top-four positions because of the power the likes of Man City, Chelsea and Manchester United have got at the moment," he told the Independent. "The likes of us, Tottenham and Arsenal are fighting to sneak into the other place that's available.
"Where we sit actually right now, it all depends on what decision Luis Suárez makes in the next few weeks. If we lose him then the challenge becomes even more difficult. It's that simple.
"If he goes to Arsenal, it obviously makes our season that little bit more difficult. It strengthens them an awful lot and they are our rivals for a top-four position. From the club's point of view it doesn't make sense at all, no matter how much money is put on the table."
Arsenal have had two offers for Suárez turned down, the most recent for £40,000,001 in a failed attempt to trigger talks with the player by exploiting a clause in his contract.
Gerrard, speaking in advance of his testimonial against Olympiakos at Anfield on Saturday, said he had strongly urged Suárez to stay and qualify for the Champions League with Liverpool.
He added that in his estimation Suárez is "the third best player in the world" alongside Tottenham's Gareth Bale, after Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, and that even if the 26-year-old leaves Anfield he should not therefore consider going to any other club than the top two in Spain.
"If he was to go abroad to a Madrid or Barcelona I would totally understand it," he said. "He's a South American. He's good enough to play in either of those teams. From a family point of view, it's where they all want to be. If I was him I would wait for one of those two clubs because I think he's good enough to play for them."
Gerrard said he had been trying "loads" to convince Suárez of his viewpoint. His comments came after Liverpool's manager, Brendan Rodgers, said Suárez "totally understands" Liverpool's decision not to entertain offers for him and remains happy at the club.