• Rodgers insists no gentleman's agreement in place
• Suárez says he is 'happy' at Anfield after Norwich
Brendan Rodgers has clarified Luis Suárez's position at Anfield by insisting there is no gentleman's agreement that the striker can leave Liverpool at the end of this season. He also said Liverpool will "fight tooth and nail" to keep the Uruguay international for the prime of his career.
Suárez's importance to Liverpool was illustrated brilliantly on Wednesday as he scored four goals in a performance against Norwich City that Rodgers bracketed alongside Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. The Liverpool manager immediately claimed Anfield was a perfect fit for Suárez, although the forward's future will be under fresh scrutiny next summer should he enter the final two years of his current contract and especially if Rodgers' team do not qualify for the Champions League. The 26-year-old accused Rodgers of breaking a promise that he could join a Champions League club last summer at the height of his ultimately thwarted attempt to join Arsenal. And Rodgers has clarified there was no such agreement reached for this season in an attempt to pacify Liverpool's outstanding talent.
"There never was that (agreement) before and there never was that this summer," the Liverpool manager said. "The contract was what it was. We want him to stay and with his contract running for two and a half years I am sure there will be something between now and the end of the season to keep him here but there will be a number of dependencies on that. But the most important thing is that the player is happy. I didn't sit in on the conversations but as I understand it there is no agreement of any kind."
Suárez said: "I am happy here and I will stay" when asked by Marca after the Norwich game whether he would remain at Liverpool until the end of the season. Despite expecting progress on a new contract for Suárez before the summer, Rodgers believes it is better for the striker to avoid distractions and focus on the form that has yielded 13 goals in 10 Liverpool appearances so far.
"There is no pressure to do anything," he added. "I think that all parties are fairly comfortable where it is at at the moment. There is no need to change that. The player is happy. We made our feelings known in the summer and it is where it is. The only concentration now for us and Luis is to keep him playing at that level and the rest will take care of itself. I think for him, to be fair, it wouldn't matter anyway. He is always very focused on his football. If it is something that the club and agent want to sort out it will be done but I think at this moment in time all parties are happy and we will see where it takes us."
Suárez's international team-mate, Edinson Cavani, said on Thursday that the striker would command a world record transfer fee should Liverpool decide to sell next summer. But Rodgers insists Liverpool's priority is to extend Suárez's Anfield career rather than commence the onerous task of finding a replacement.
He said: "There are not many like him. When you see what he brings to the club then there are not many out there who can do that. There are some outstanding talents but when you have actually got one then, like we showed in the summer, you have to fight tooth and nail to keep it and that is something we will look to do. He will be moving into the prime of his career in the next few years and if we can keep him here that'll get the best from him."