Liverpool striker Luis Suarez has told ESPN that he is learning to control his temperament on the pitch -- but that his natural style means he will always be playing on the edge.
Suarez, 26, has returned from a 10-game ban for biting Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic at the end of last season in the form of his life. He has scored 20 Premier League goals in just 15 matches and, barring injury or suspension, appears certain to finish as the top scorer in England.
The Uruguay international also courted controversy when he was banned for eight matches for racially abusing Manchester United defender Patrice Evra.
He has been booked only three times for Liverpool this season, a tally he had reached by Sept. 15 in the 2012-13 campaign. It shows he has worked hard to improve his behaviour, something the player knows he had to bring under control.
"My temperament, my attitude, my desire and hunger when I’m on the pitch has always been like this and will continue to be this way. I know now that I have to control it a bit more," he explained to ESPN Deportes.
"An example came about two weeks ago I had an open shot at goal that hit the post. It rebounded close to my hand, and I was about to go for it but then stopped. If the same thing happened two months ago I would have gone for it.
"These things stay with me but I’m changing, I’m improving my attitude on the pitch because I know I was wrong in the past. I was creating an image of myself that I know wasn’t me."
The Uruguay international signed a new long-term contract with Liverpool before Christmas therefore putting to bed, for the time being at least, speculation over this future with both Arsenal and Real Madrid keeping a close eye on his progress.
"I want to play football and I want to help Liverpool win as long as possible," he added. "I’m happy to be in the Premier League which is the best league in the world. This is what matters to me.
"As for the financial aspects, you always want to be comfortable for the future because the career of a footballer is short. I wish it wasn’t so short, but after having lived through some difficult times growing up I’m in a very comfortable situation today thanks to the good work and effort I’ve shown over the last few seasons.
"Today all I am thinking about is Liverpool. I don’t want to create any controversy or anything. I am more than happy with my life here and my wife and children are very happy as well. We are very content with our life.
"I am with a spectacular club that I’ve always wanted to play for. The team is playing well, I feel comfortable on the pitch, I feel comfortable despite what happens in other stadiums. I love playing here in England and that is the only thing I think about."
Liverpool are enjoying their best season for years and currently sit in the fourth and final Champions League qualifying position. They have fallen six points behind league leaders Arsenal but Suarez hopes the demands of European competition will take their toll on the teams above them.
"This is an aspect that we will have to take advantage of in February and March," said Suarez. "All of the clubs ahead of us are in the Champions League so they will be more tired after playing more matches... Obviously the intensity in the Champions League is difficult to handle; it tires you and the stress can change you. So we have to take advantage of this.
"I don’t know if we have what it takes to be champions due to the lack of a couple of things, such as being able to match the same level as the other big clubs and their skill level. We didn’t deserve to lose either of the matches played recently against the top clubs [defeats at Manchester City and Chelsea] but it’s alright, we are playing well and are on the right track."