• Uruguayan angry after booed by Team GB fans at Olympics
• Manager looks to loan market to boost Liverpool squad
Brendan Rodgers has told Luis Suárez it is in Liverpool’s best interests to “move on” from the Patrice Evra controversy as the Uruguayan prepares for his return to the squad next week.
Suárez accused Team GB fans of a “total lack of respect” after Uruguay’s elimination from the Olympic Games in Cardiff, where jeers interrupted their national anthem when the Liverpool striker appeared on the big screen and accompanied his every touch. His team-mate for club and country, Sebastián Coates, said criticism had “gone too far” for a player who received an eight-match ban for racially abusing the Manchester United defender last season.
Liverpool had attempted to draw a line under the episode, issuing several apologies after Suárez failed to shake Evra’s hand at Old Trafford in February, only for the 25-year-old to protest his innocence and criticise his treatment in England in interviews when at home this summer. Rodgers fears the Olympic Games have shown the Evra saga remains a distraction for Suárez and, while fully supportive of Liverpool’s key forward, someone the club are trying to secure on a new long-term contract, he is keen it does not detract from their first season together.
“The first point is that opposition fans only give people stick because they’re good players,” said the Liverpool manager. “You don’t see bad ones getting it. Luis probably still feels a little bit of injustice about last season, but for me the message is that we have to move on. We have to move forward. What’s happened has happened and let’s let it go now, however hard it is. We want to be winning games and doing our best for the football club.”
Uruguay’s early elimination from the Olympics means Suárez and Coates will return to Liverpool ahead of Thursday’s Europa League third qualifying round, second leg against FC Gomel. Rodgers, whose side secured a fortunate 1-0 first leg win in Belarus on Thursday, expects the striker to make a swift impact.
“It will be fantastic to have Luis coming back, and he is already fighting fit. He will have a couple of days off and join up with us after the weekend. He’s been playing games, so he will already be up to a decent level of fitness, maybe even higher really, because he’s had more competitive games. I’m really looking forward to working with him,” he said.
Rodgers hopes to add to his squad next week after Alberto Aquilani was finally removed from the wage bill having completed a permanent move to Fiorentina. The Italian midfielder was signed for £17m in 2009 as a replacement for Xabi Alonso but struggled with injury in his first season and was loaned to Juventus and Milan in his latter years with the club. Aquilani made only nine league starts for Liverpool and Rodgers is keen to sign the Swansea City midfielder Joe Allen after his involvement in the Olympics. Rodgers has confirmed he is also looking to the loan market to rejuvenate his squad.
The Liverpool manager said: “There is nothing imminent just yet, not that I am aware of, but hopefully things will progress over the next couple of days. It may take one or two moves to spark everything off. I want players in sooner rather than later, it is important to get the group together as quickly as possible, but if not we will just have to be patient. I’d be happy as long as we have some in before the end of August.
“I have also looked at one or two loan deals from abroad. There are some quality players in that market that I have inquired about. The make-up of the group will change before the season starts and that will change the dynamic of the team also.”
Rodgers denied the exclusion of Andy Carroll and Daniel Agger from Liverpool’s trip to Belarus was connected to doubts over their futures at Anfield. The Dane’s agent, Per Steffensen, has denied claims Agger has been approached by Liverpool over a new contract.
The Liverpool manager added: “Daniel was always going to stay behind. We have a behind-closed-doors game for him this weekend to help his match fitness. It is straightforward with Andy too. I didn’t want senior players coming over if they weren’t going to get games. He is another who stayed at home to work on his condition.”
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