Brendan Rodgers has warned his striker Luis Suarez to be on his best behaviour if he is to fulfil his “world-class” potential.
The Uruguayan’s time in the Premier League has been a mixture of controversy and impressive performances, but more often than not it has been the former which has made the headlines.
Most recently, Suarez was banned for 10 games by the Football Association for biting Branislav Ivanovic and it is this sort of behaviour which boss Rodgers feels could be hampering both himself and his club.
The Liverpool manager claimed that Suarez can “never be called a great player” while he continues to be involved in situations such as this and said the club wanted to help improve his image.
“Everyone isn’t perfect,” Rodgers said. “If you have a squad of perfect players, you might not have that quality to win.
“Our idea is to help the perception of Luis Suarez, from a world-class player. I know he is a good person but there are many in the country who don’t see him like that because they don’t know him.”
Incidents involving Suarez, who has notched 23 goals in the Premier League this season, include biting Otman Bakkal while playing for Ajax and racially abusing Manchester United defender Patrice Evra in 2011.
Rodgers himself admits to seeing Suarez differently before he joined Liverpool and says he now wants to “support and help him”.
“Rightly or wrongly, I was maybe one of those from the outside who judged the guy from my perception as an opposing manager,” he said.
“I’d seen him as a guy who was probably a nuisance and a pest but had qualities. Now I know the man — and I know he is a genuine good-hearted man who, from time-to-time, his impulse will take over. We’ll see it again in top sports people.”
There have been suggestions that Liverpool may choose to part company with Suarez, although this has been denied by Anfield bosses, but Rodgers says he has no problem making Daniel Sturridge the main point of his attack in the Uruguayan’s absence.