Brendan Rodgers has described the form of newly crowned PFA Players Player of the Year Luis Suarez as ‘phenomenal’ this season.
The Uruguayan was recognised by his peers at the awards ceremony on Sunday evening, following a season that has seen him score 30 goals and provide 11 assists in 31 Premier League matches.
His form has helped Liverpool to the top of the Premier League table with just two matches of the season remaining, and Rodgers was keen to praise his fantastic displays this season.
“It’s that invention and creativity that we love,” Rodgers said.
He’s a player from the street and that’s something that in this country we’ve been looking to identify.
“He’s just relentless in his work. Every second of the day, in training, he’s just non-stop. He has been coached but it hasn’t been coached out of him. He has been allowed to flourish. In and around the box, he’s magical.
“He’s a real humble guy and so professional. People don’t see that.
“This is a guy who, when he finishes his meal, he gets his two bottles of water, four litres, he takes it away, making sure he’s hydrated before games.
“He never misses a training session. He’s never on the treatment table – and the kicks he gets, the knocks he gets. Everyone is seeing his maturity as a person and his continuing development as a player. He has been phenomenal.
“I’m interested in the person as much as the player. From the first year, he knew I would shape the team around his qualities. The way we set the system up is to be technical and intelligent.
“Probably what people don’t see with Luis is that he’s a very, very highly intelligent man off the field – and maybe sometimes in the past that intelligence on the field hasn’t been seen so much – but that imagination is part of how we work.
“I love players that have that technical ability. That’s what we’ve built our template on over the past 20 months and he’s at the top end of that.”
Rodgers admitted that Champions League qualification for the Reds this season was vital to ensuring Suarez stayed at Anfield, after almost leaving the club last summer.
“A player of Luis Suarez’s ability has to be playing at this level,” remarked Rodgers. “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.”
Suarez was keen to thank the supporters, his teammates and his family following the award, and Rodgers believes his wife Sofia has played as big a part as anyone in his rise to the top.
“She’s a great woman and offers him great stability in his life,” he said. “She tells him straight and direct. She loves Liverpool, she loves the city, she loves the camaraderie with the other players’ wives. So she’s a real pillar in his life.
“Luis travelled across the world to find her again. It’s an incredible story. She left Uruguay and went to Barcelona with her parents. He wanted to move to Europe so he would have the chance to meet up with her again.
“When he went to Holland – it’s a beautiful story – he was only 17 and had gone to Groningen, he asked the coach for a few days off. On those days off, he travelled to Barcelona to go and get her, to bring her back, and they’ve been together ever since.”