Brendan Rodgers would likely still be manager of Liverpool had Luis Suarez not been sold to Barcelona, according to former Uruguay international Gus Poyet.
Liverpool finished just two points behind champions Manchester City in 2013-14, with Suarez scoring 31 goals en route to winning the Premier League and PFA player of the year awards.
Suarez subsequently left Anfield to join Barcelona and lifted the treble with the Catalans in 2014-15, while Liverpool have since replaced Rogders with Jurgen Klopp following disappointing results in the past year.
Poyet has hailed his compatriot for making “football history” alongside Lionel Messi and Neymar at Barca and believes his departure ultimately spelled the end for Rodgers’ time in charge at Anfield.
“Luis left Uruguay and moved to Dutch football, which has certain significance at a world-wide level, but his move to Liverpool put him on a higher level than many. Today he is playing a part in one of the most important trios in football history. That makes him very special,” he told Omnisport.
“In England he did good things in his first year, but his second year, he was unique. Some people misunderstood my words when I said that Liverpool almost won the Premier League thanks to Luis Suarez. I just wanted to demonstrate in England the significance of Luis Suarez on the pitch. I wasn’t going against Liverpool.
“It happens in any part of the world. Napoli won the league when [Diego] Maradona was playing there. This doesn’t mean that I am saying that Napoli is nothing without Maradona. It is still Napoli, a great team. But it has been demonstrated that with Suarez, Liverpool was a better team.
“People take it wrongly if they think I am talking bad about Liverpool, I just gave my opinion about a special player. His departure has cost Liverpool a lot. Among other things, probably Brendan Rodgers’ job. Maybe if Suarez was still playing for Liverpool, Brendan Rodgers would be the coach today.”
Suarez has courted controversy throughout his playing career, having been sanctioned for three separate incidents of biting opponents – one of which occurred at the 2014 World Cup and saw him unable to make his Barca debut until October last year – and caught up in a racism row involving then-Manchester United defender Patrice Evra in 2011.
Poyet believes such events have often worked against him in terms of recognition within the wider footballing world, but he hopes to see Suarez honoured with a place in the final three nominees for the Ballon d’Or before he retires, after he missed out to Messi, Neymar and Cristiano Ronaldo this year.
“It can be possible,” he said of his Ballon d’Or chances. “I think many things happened during the year that did not help Luis at all, everything that happened with the national team and the suspension.
“There were moments in history when you could easily choose the best player in the world: when Pele was there it was him. After it was Maradona. Now we talk about Messi, Ronaldo… And now has come Neymar and then it appears Suarez to his great level.
“There are many great players. That makes the competition beautiful, but makes it difficult to choose only three. As a Uruguayan, a friend, and a football fan I would have liked to see him among the best three players in the world. I think he deserves it after those years playing against many people that have tried to go against him. Sometimes he has suffered injustice for his personality. It will be nice if he gets the recognition that he deserves.”
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