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Team of the Weekend, Dec. 20-21

Premier League
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Rodgers hails 'warrior' Skrtel

Liverpool
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 By Mike Whalley

Liverpool open Luis Suarez talks

Liverpool and Uruguay striker Luis Suarez won the Player of the Year award at the Football Supporters' Federation Awards in London on Monday night.

Liverpool have begun talks over a new deal with Luis Suarez as they bid to keep him out of the reach of Europe’s big-spending clubs.

Managing director Ian Ayre flew to Barcelona on Tuesday to open negotiations with Pere Guardiola, the striker’s agent.

No firm contract offer was made during the meeting, but Liverpool are keen to ensure they secure Suarez’s long-term future, sources told ESPN. Talks are expected to continue over the coming weeks.

The 26-year-old, signed for 22.8 million pounds from Ajax in January 2011, is under contract until the summer of 2016, having signed his most recent deal in 2012. But his Anfield future made headlines all through last summer as he stated -- publicly and repeatedly -- that he wanted to leave.

Liverpool insisted throughout the saga that they would not sell him, rejecting two bids from Arsenal, including a 40,000,001 pounds offer that the Gunners wrongly thought would trigger a release clause in his current contract.

Real Madrid have also been linked with a move for the Uruguay international, although they did not make a bid during the summer.

Both Suarez and Liverpool have put the summer’s discord behind them, though. And since his return from a 10-match ban on Sept. 25, Suarez has scored 17 goals in 11 Premier League appearances.

The striker was made captain at Tottenham last Sunday, with Steven Gerrard out because of a hamstring injury, and scored twice in Sunday’s 5-0 win at Tottenham. That victory moved Liverpool back into second place, two points behind leaders Arsenal.

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