English Premiership

Rodgers: Reds will be better

2014-07-12 20:06
Luis Suarez (AFP)

London - Brendan Rodgers insists Liverpool will be even stronger next season despite the departure of star striker Luis Suarez.

Suarez agreed a £75 million move to Barcelona on Friday and the Uruguayan will travel to Spain for a medical next week before officially completing the transfer.

The 27-year-old scored 82 goals in 133 appearances for Liverpool and his remarkable tally of 31 in 33 league matches last season helped the Reds qualify for the Champions League and come close to winning the English title for the first time in 24 years.

But his stay at Anfield was marred by a series of controversial incidents, which included suspensions for racially abusing Manchester United's Patrice Evra and biting Chelsea's Branislav Ivanovic.

Suarez was in trouble again during the current World Cup, when he bit Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini, earning a nine-match international suspension and a four-month ban from all football activities.

That latest indiscretion prompted Liverpool's owner John W. Henry to cash in on Suarez, but the fee will be reinvested in strengthening the squad and Rodgers expects to reap the rewards.

"I am confident we will improve the team further and will be stronger for this coming season, when we will be competing on all fronts; domestically and in the greatest club competition in the world, the Champions League," Rodgers said.

"We are focused on the future, as we strive to continue with the progress we have made and build on last season's excellent Premier League campaign."

It is not the first time Liverpool have sparked fears about their future by selling a star forward.

In 1977 Kevin Keegan quit for Hamburg but he was replaced with tremendous success by Kenny Dalglish, while Ian Rush's move to Juventus in 1987 was off-set by swoops for Peter Beardsley, John Aldridge and John Barnes.

In both cases Liverpool went on to win silverware the season after the big-name exits, and Rodgers hopes his rebuilding programme, which has already included the signings of Rickie Lambert, Adam Lallana and Emre Can, will yield similar rewards.

"If there is one thing the history of this great club teaches us, it is that Liverpool FC is bigger than any individual," Rodgers said.

"I hope our supporters continue to dream and believe that we are moving forward and with continued improvement and progression, together we will bring the success we all crave and deserve."

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Fixtures
16 August 2014
Manchester United v Swansea City, Old Trafford 13:45
West Ham United v Tottenham Hotspur, Boleyn Ground 16:00
Stoke City v Aston Villa, Britannia Stadium 16:00
Leicester City v Everton, King Power Stadium 16:00
Queens Park Rangers v Hull City, Loftus Road Stadium 16:00
West Bromwich Albion v Sunderland, The Hawthorns 16:00
Arsenal v Crystal Palace, Emirates Stadium 18:30
17 August 2014
Liverpool v Southampton, Anfield 14:30
Newcastle United v Manchester City, St. James' Park 17:00
18 August 2014
Burnley v Chelsea, Turf Moor 21:00
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