Last summer, Luis Suarez was a pariah in English football circles and angling for a move away from Liverpool. This season, he's been voted the league's top player by his peers and has led Liverpool back into the Champions League. Leaving any talk of grand personal transformations aside, it's been a rather dramatic change in fortunes for both the player and the club.
After what happened last time around, some fans may still be a little worried about Suarez heading into the summer, and that's understandable. As far as Brendan Rodgers is concerned, though, Liverpool's return to the Champions League next season will likely keep him around just as it was the lack of such that was key in Suarez' desire to move on from Anfield last summer.
"That was key to it," said Rodgers. "That's what he was missing. His loyalty in staying at Liverpool, to continue to fight for the club to get us there, is remarkable really. Hopefully he gets the rewards for that with those big European nights next season. I've convinced players to stay and enjoy the style of football, which they do, but they also want to be competing in the best competitions."
Still in the race for the title and with a spot in the group stages of the Champions League confirmed rather speaks for itself when it comes to convincing players seeking the chance to compete at the highest level. And Rodgers believes Liverpool have another reason for feeling good about the chances that Suarez will stick around: the loyalty fans showed him this season despite his past antics.
"He probably would not get that sort of devotion elsewhere," said the manager. "I think he understands that."