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I told Suarez he was too good for Arsenal - Gerrard

ESPN staff
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Steven Gerrard does not begrudge Luis Suarez's choice to move to Barcelona © Getty Images
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Steven Gerrard believes Liverpool would be favourites to win the Premier League if they had kept Luis Suarez - a player he believes was too good to join Arsenal.

The club captain was close to Suarez, who signed for Barcelona for £75 million this summer, and his respect for the striker and the role he played in role in persuading him to stay at Anfield last year was widely known.

Arsenal twice tried to activate Suarez's buyout clause and what Gerrard said to convince him to stick around at Liverpool have now been revealed.

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"I would have been really sad and disappointed to see Luis go to Arsenal. With all due respect to them, I said to him that he was too good for Arsenal," Gerrard said. "I said if you score 30 goals for us and win the PFA Player of the Year, the press Player of the Year - I knew he was going to win them - I told him Real Madrid or Barcelona will come for you.

"He got the wrong advice last year from people around him, from people saying he needed to play in the Champions League and it did not matter who it was for. I have experience of the Spanish clubs myself and I know if you play well they will come back and come back. I knew they'd be back for him as well.

"For his own sake, to get respect off the Liverpool fans, he had to give us at least one year. A lot of people might still think he should have given us one more, but my big dream was to play for Liverpool, and the foreign players' big dream is to play for Real or Barcelona, that's a fact.

"His wife is from Barcelona and I don't think you can begrudge a player like that, who has worked so hard for his dream. You can't go against him when he says he is leaving for Barcelona. His dream from the first day he came was to play for Real Madrid or Barcelona. Last summer when he was out in the cold and training on his own that's the conversation I had with him. I said, 'Don't go to Arsenal'."

Where Suarez's departure leaves Liverpool is still unclear. Manager Brendan Rodgers has brought in Rickie Lambert, Adam Lallana, Emre Can, Dejan Lovren and Lazar Markovic in an attempt to keep them competitive in the Premier League and enable them to handle the extra pressure of the Champions League.

But the last two times Liverpool have finished second in the Premier League - as they did last term - there was a season of decline the year afterwards.

"I believe if we had Luis Suarez we'd be favourites [to win the title]," Gerrard said. "I'm disappointed to see him leave now but I am happy for him that's he has got what he wants and deserves. Since day one he has been phenomenal in training every day and in the games.

"When we finished second in those cases, I don't think there was a genuine belief that we were going to go all the way to the wire. Last year we were in it until the end and that has given us the belief that we are genuine title contenders.

"It is different when you finish second and you know you were never really in it. You are chasing. This time we were there, right at the end. We could have won it."

Gerrard has one year left on his current contract and hopes to extend it but, after suffering what he deemed the worst three months of his life, is concentrating on the forthcoming season more than his own future.

He said: "Brendan has mentioned it a couple of times in the media but no talks have happened. I'm sure we will talk in the future, but we will have to wait and see. I hope that I am here for more than one year, of course I do. But it is all about this season for me."

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