Early Doors

Suarez still in debt to Liverpool

Any mild panic generated on Merseyside yesterday by reports of an imminent £40 million offer from Manchester City for Luis Suarez would have been entirely understandable.

At present Liverpool are the closest thing the Premier League has to a one-man team. Not only is Suarez their only fit senior striker, he has been responsible for a higher portion of his team's goals - whether scoring directly or by claiming an assist - than any other player in the division.

To say the Reds rely on him is an understatement. Suarez is a defibrillator keeping the Liverpool body alive with regular and well-timed bursts of electricity. They'd probably be dead and buried in the relegation zone without him.

Yet despite this, Early Doors believes a desire to maintain the working relationship, at least for the rest of the season, should be the striker's just as much as the club that might be doomed without him.

The concept of loyalty in football is dead - we all know that. Though some fans still harbour the romantic notion that the players who wear the shirt have some kind of unbreakable emotional bond with their club, ED predicts this endearingly quaint delusion will finally be shattered forever when at some point next season Jack Wilshere demands a move to Manchester City, leaving Gooners a gibbering wreck for the final time before their hearts harden to the density of lead.

Frankly, the thought that any player would place mere loyalty over the chance to advance their career or earn more cash is an outdated concept. It belongs to more innocent times, an era when you could leave your front door unlocked and led kids roam free in the streets.

However, if it is not loyalty per se that should tie Suarez to Liverpool for the time being, there is surely some force working on him. Because after everything that has happened over the past 18 months or so, the striker owes Liverpool. Big time.

Liverpool have been unwavering in their support of Suarez despite his tendency to heap embarrassment on the once feared club. This was most notably demonstrated by the incredible decision by his team-mates and then manager Kenny Dalglish to sport T-shirts bearing his face last December after Suarez had been banned for eight games for racially abusing Patrice Evra. Early Doors still has to regularly check if that orchestrated display of crassness actually did happen or whether it was some kind of bad trip after eating a dodgy mushroom risotto.

Those T-shirts were just the most visible example of how Liverpool indulged the striker throughout the whole sorry affair, while the only real time they deviated from 100 per cent backing was when, under pressure from sponsors, they had no excuse but to force Suarez to apologise for refusing to shake Evra's hand prior to a match in February.

Most companies would probably seek to punish an employee who had caused such damage to 'the brand'. But Suarez was given a brand new contract last summer.

He has rewarded Liverpool with some quite brilliant performances this season and is arguably the best player in the Premier League on current form. Yet he is still paying off a debt to the club that supported him so staunchly despite Suarez committing one of the gravest offences witnessed on a pitch in many a year.

Suarez owes Liverpool. To abandon them at a time when they so nakedly need him would be tantamount to betrayal. It would be much worse than Fernando Torres's decision to quit for Chelsea.

The good news for Reds fans is that yesterday Suarez moved to address widespread reports of City's interest by talking to the club's official website.

"I have a very long contract here and it's a dream come true to be playing at a club like Liverpool because, as I've said, as a boy I dreamt of playing for a team like this," Suarez said.

"Now I'm here it's all about enjoying myself and trying to be here for as many years as I can, because I'm at a club where I'm very happy, my family is happy, I've got fantastic team-mates and a manager from whom I'm learning so much.

"Let's hope we can keep improving. I'm working well and I'm very happy at a club where I've always wanted to be. At a club to whom I'm very grateful for the trust everyone is showing in me, a club with amazing supporters and team-mates who are all great people."

Brendan Rodgers was also adamant there will be "no bidding war" over his biggest asset and for now the story seems dead. City are said to be bemused at suggestions they want to buy the player while Liverpool have firmly stated they do not wish to sell.

But as always, these matters largely rest on the will of the player.  It can only be hoped that Suarez will stay true to his public statements yesterday and resist the chance to leave Liverpool in the lurch after they way they have indulged him and supported him for so long.

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QUOTE OF THE DAY: "There is always enormous interest from clubs across world in signing David. He has absolutely no plans to play in Australia. David is completely focused on the MLS play-offs and winning another championship with the Galaxy." - In the space of about 10 minutes this morning it was claimed by Football Federation Australia that they had been in contact with David Beckham, only for the former England skipper's spokesman to immediately shoot down the rumours.

FOREIGN VIEW: "I am very happy at Atletico at this time. I am proud to be here and I still have three years to go on my contract. There is some talk about my departure at the end of the season, but right now I am perfectly fine in Madrid. I am one with this club and my only concern is to help get it to the top. Our journey so far has been formidable, we have played some very attractive football and the team wants to have a good season." - Falcao puts rumours of a January move to Chelsea to bed. Well, for a day or two at least.

COMING UP: We preview all of the weekend's games in the Premier League and beyond, before Jim White files his latest column and we reveal the result of the Goal of the Week poll. Oh, and The Fantasist returns for another Fantasy Football chat.