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 By Mike Whalley

Werner: Suarez vital for UCL push

Liverpool chairman Tom Werner insists Luis Suarez is an "integral" part of the club's future and believes the Uruguay international can fire Brendan Rodgers' side into next season's Champions League.

Suarez gave several interviews over the summer in which he stated that he wanted to leave Anfield. But Liverpool rejected two bids from Arsenal as they made clear they had no intention of selling the 26-year-old, who is under contract until 2016.

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Suarez has only recently returned to action for Liverpool after completing a ten-match ban, making his first appearance in a competitive match at Anfield since then in the 3-1 win over Crystal Palace last Saturday.

The striker was the centre of attention before the match as he showed off his new-born son Benjamin to the crowd before kick-off, then opened the scoring.

Werner told the Daily Mirror: "I got a kick out of the fact that Luis came out on to the pitch before kick-off with his baby and his daughter. He shook hands with all the officials and the other players carrying his baby. That is the side of Luis I know, the loving parent.

"There was interest in him from other clubs throughout the summer but it was important for us to try to keep him. He is one of the great players of the world and we felt that we would be a stronger club with him than without him.

"That does not mean I don't respect his intense desire to play in the Champions League. But it would be a very happy day next May if and when we get to the Champions League by finishing in the top four and he is part of it.

"It is our intention to keep him for a while. Our intention is to build a winning club and he is integral to that. The past is the past and I have great affection for him personally.

"I give Brendan Rodgers an enormous amount of credit for making sure Luis knew how needed he was at Liverpool. Brendan made it plain to him how much he was going to be embraced by the fans, and the supporters have been terrific.

"The team have played brilliantly at times. It is not unfair to say that Suarez and Daniel Sturridge are as powerful a striking force as any in the league."

Werner has also given his backing to manager Rodgers, whose side lie second in the Premier League after seven games.

"I think Brendan has made remarkable progress," he added. "He's a great strategist and has shown strong leadership. When we hired him, we were confident we were getting one of the brightest managerial talents in the game and he is proving his worth.

"He's dedicated to improving the club as a whole and shares our vision of developing a club that is built for sustained success. He has shown a willingness to use young players and at the same time, demonstrated the ability to get the best out of our established stars.

"Brendan is respected by the players. They feel he is a good strategist and a good leader and his philosophy has been embraced by everyone. We are all moving in the same direction and Brendan is very much the leader.

"We're pleased with the progress we're seeing on the pitch but our goal is to create sustainable, long-term success at Liverpool and to consistently compete for silverware, so we're not getting carried away with a few good months.

"The club is definitely moving in the right direction under Brendan and as owners we're very optimistic and excited about the future."


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