By Shea Leonard
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has insisted that he feels no bitterness in the wake of Luis Suarez’s recent departure from Anfield, despite the support the club and manger gave him during the player’s time on Merseyside.
The Uruguayan striker recently moved to Spanish giants Barcelona for a fee of £75m after spending three-and-a-half seasons at Anfield, scoring a phenomenal 82 goals in 133 games during that period.
However, the former Ajax ace also received two significant suspensions while with the Reds. His first ban came after he was found guilty of racially abusing Manchester United’s Patrice Evra, and the second when he bit Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic.
Liverpool stood by Suarez on both occasions, but when asked if he felt the player had let the club or his former boss down by jumping ship, Rodgers replied: “No, not at all.
“Luis, in my two years at the club, has been sensational.
“Of course there have been issues which have been well documented, but it’s in the past really. He was a brilliant player for us. For me, I will always see him as a good man and a good friend.
“He gave everything to Liverpool, and he left Liverpool after his time as a world-class talent.
“It’s obviously a shame he’s not here, but Liverpool, as a club, is bigger than any individual and we will move forward.”
“Luis is gone. We can’t replace him like for like. There are other players we can bring in that can maybe bring other things to us. The core principles of our game won’t change”
Rodgers, who was speaking at a press conference at Fenway Park ahead of Wednesday’s friendly against Roma at the home of the Boston Red Sox, also said that Suarez’s departure would not force a change in tactical approach.
“The philosophy doesn’t change, the personnel might,” the Ulsterman said.
“Our game principles are very much the same. We’ve got to be defensively strong, good organisation, press the ball really hard, and then, when we have the ball, create chances and retain possession as long as we can.
“So that won’t change now Luis is gone. We can’t replace him like for like. There are other players we can bring in that can maybe bring other things to us. The core principles of our game won’t change.”
French international striker Loic Remy is believed to be on the verge of signing for Liverpool from QPR, while the Reds are also reported to be close to securing the services of Atletico Madrid full-back Javier Manquillo on a season-long loan.
Rodgers refused to be drawn on either possible transfer, saying he would not comment “about speculation on any player until they have signed”.
The 41-year-old was more than happy to discuss confirmed arrivals, however, and singled out Adam Lallana for special praise.
The 25-year-old attacker was signed for £25m from Southampton, and Rodgers has been impressed with the “character” of the England international.
He said: “Adam Lallana, as you'd expect, is a wonderful talent and we've seen that over the last couple of years in the Premier League.
“I've watched him since he was a young player and I've seen his progression. In this very short period of time of working with him, I've realised what a good man he is.
“We do our homework on the players, on their character, before they come in. He's a great human being, he's here because he's hungry and wants to fight for Liverpool.
“He's left a great club in Southampton where he had the honour of captaining them, but now he's come to one of the biggest clubs in the world. From what I've seen from him so far in training, he's been absolutely fantastic; hungry, technically good and tactically very, very good.”
The visit to Boston brings back memories of Liverpool’s pre-season trip to the city in 2012, and Rodgers admitted feelings of nostalgia from that period.
“It's great because I remember being sat here a couple of years ago, two-stone heavier,” he quipped. “It was the start of a journey that has been incredible for the last couple of years.
“There's a real sense of nostalgia, coming back. It’s an iconic stadium. I've obviously been back to Boston since, but coming back here with the team allows us to sit and reflect on the two years that we've had and the progress that has been made.”
Liverpool take on Roma at Fenway Park tonight at 7.30pm local time (12.30am Thursday Irish time).