Suarez texts best wishes to Reds

LONDON - Brendan Rodgers received a good luck text from Luis Suárez before Liverpool’s Premier League opener against Southampton and claimed the win could set the tone for another title challenge without the brilliant Uruguay international.

The Liverpool manager described the 2-1 win as “vital” after goals from Raheem Sterling and Daniel Sturridge compensated for a laboured display against a Southampton side showing few ill effects from the summer of upheaval at St Mary’s Stadium.

Sturridge’s goal was his 36th in 50 appearances for Liverpool, a more prolific return than any player in the club’s illustrious history since George Allan in the late 19th century, and the England international believes last season’s runners-up will be stronger despite his former strike partner’s £75m move to Barcelona.

Suárez was presented to Barcelona supporters last night before the Joan Gamper Trophy match with León, after his four-month ban from all football-related activities for biting Giorgio Chiellini at the World Cup was relaxed by the court of arbitration for sport last week. And Rodgers revealed Suárez has not severed all ties with Liverpool and was among his well-wishers for the new campaign.

“Our ambitions here at Liverpool have to be bigger than one player,” said Rodgers, when asked if Liverpool could mount a title challenge without last season’s leading goalscorer.

“Luis sent me a lovely text this morning wishing us all the best, which was a great gesture. He is a friend now of Liverpool. We are bigger than any player. We do still want another striker but that will depend on the availability. Today was about winning and we got there.

“We believe in the way we work. I don’t think anyone has given us any hope of getting in the top four but that was the case last season as well. I have an inherent belief in these players. We are by no means the finished article. We are bringing in young players who are not ready-made but will improve and we will attack this season in the same way.

“We have got ambitions to be fighting and challenging. We loved the challenge of being in the title race last season and we are looking to recreate that. You do that by winning games and performing. Today we won the game and it gives us hope we can continue the great run of form we have been on for the past 18 months.”

Rodgers added Suárez’s text was sent to him personally and that he did reply. “It was a real love-in,” he said. “He’s a great boy but he is gone now.” – The Guardian

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