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Luis Suarez commits himself to Liverpool, possesses ‘group mentality’

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Ahead of today’s massive fixture between Liverpool and Chelsea, Luis Suarez has calmed the nerves of the Kop by telling the Sunday Times that he will be at Anfield when next season rolls around.

“I’ll be here next season, yes,” Suarez said. “Not only am I playing for Liverpool, I am playing in one of the best leagues in the world.

“I am very happy (at Liverpool) and I want to see out my contract, though in football you never know quite what’s ahead.”

The Uruguayan appeared to leave a little wiggle room with the later portion of the statement, but Reds supporters will nevertheless find comfort in Suarez’ qualification, adding:  “A club can decide they don’t want you, even though you want to stay. In football things never turn out the way you plan.”

Like all top players, Suarez dreams of playing in the Champions League but with five matches to play and 11 points away from qualification, Liverpool won’t be involved in the competition next season. German giants Bayern Munich, however, will be. And with Pep Guardiola set to take over as manager, the Bavarians have made no secret of their admiration for Suarez. The buzz of interest has compelled Liverpool to regularly down-play the reports of Suarez’ possible departure and up until Sunday only veiled references indicated the striker’s intent to stay.

If Suarez were to depart it would be a crushing blow to Liverpool, who’s striking options would be left to Daniel Sturridge, on-loan striker Andy Carroll and the oft-injured Fabio Borini. Of course, a transfer of the striker would bring in a haul of $45-$90 million with which to find a suitable replacement. But if the Reds are to compete in next season’s Premiership, the constant shuffling of the attack is something that the club will look to avoid.

With 29 goals to his name, Suarez has provided Liverpool with the lion’s share of their scoring leading to his short-listing for PFA Player of the Year earlier this week. When asked whether he would have preferred to help Liverpool win a trophy and score fewer goals, the striker said: “Yes, 100 times more. I’ve got very much a group mentality.”

It’s a mindset Reds supporters will hope persists through what promises to be a drama-filled summer in the transfer market.

“Overweight” Costa comes to Mourinho’s defense

Diego Costa, Chelsea FC
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Diego Costa says he and his Chelsea teammates are to blame for Chelsea’s horrid start to the 2015-16 Premier League season.

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Speaking Thursday, during a bit of downtime over the current international break (Costa was left out of Vicente del Bosque’s squad for Spain’s final two EURO 2016 qualifiers this week), Costa placed the majority of blame at the feet of the entire team, but went on to most harshly critique himself for coming into the season unfocused and “overweight.”

Costa, on his lack of fitness and form to begin the season — quotes from the Guardian:

“We know we’re not in the form we were supposed to be at the beginning of the season. We need to blame the players because we came back from holiday very confident, thinking we could go back into how it was last season, and then realized the team was already in a bad situation.

“I’m going to be very honest: maybe a few weeks ago, five or six weeks ago, I was not on top of my game. At least physically. We talk within the players and we know that, maybe at the beginning, we were not 100 percent as we were supposed to be when we got here. I got injured at the end of last season and then I went on holiday. Maybe I got out of my diet and, when I came back, I was not the way I was supposed to be. I was a little bit overweight. That affected my game. You can be selfish and blame it on the manager but I’m not going to do that. I’m responsible 100%, and so are the other guys.

Given that Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho said on Thursday he doesn’t quite know what’s wrong with the defending Premier League champions, hearing someone — anyone — speak up and explain the club’s worst start to a season in 37 years will surely be a welcome sound to any Blues supporter’s ears.

[ MORE: Liverpool appoint Klopp as manager | Allardyce to Sunderland? ]

Costa, who is eligible to return from suspension next weekend when Aston Villa visit Stamford Bridge, has scored just one goal in league play this season (six appearances) after scoring 20 in 26 games last season.

Sam Allardyce to open talks with Sunderland

Sam Allardyce, West Ham United FC
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Now that Liverpool have selected and named their new manager, it appears Sunderland are finally ready to move forward with their own managerial search. (That’s clearly a joke, because it implies Liverpool and Sunderland ever duke it out for the same managerial candidate.)

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Anyway, the Black Cats will have to hire someone to replace the recently-departed Dick Advocaat at some point. We all knew that, despite the fact he’s probably earned a shot at that level, Bob Bradley was never really going to be considered for the job. With that in mind, if you’re not going to endear yourself to the entire United States of America with this hire, you might as well go for the best unemployed manager who’ll actually consider your approach.

That’s what Sunderland chairman Ellis Short appears to have done, as it was reported Thursday that despite an initial reluctance from Sam Allardyce — let’s be honest, he actually was holding out hope for the Liverpool job — the 60-year-old most recently in charge of West Ham United was willing and ready to enter into negotiations with the northeastern club.

One of the major sticking points during Sunderland’s courting of Allardyce is expected to be his demand for autonomy in the transfer market as well as a sizable transfer budget to sign his own players during the January window.

[ MORE: Advocaat: Sunderland squad too thin, chairman to blame ]

Allardyce seems like the no. 1 guy you’d like to bring in to steady a capsized ship — cough Sunderland cough — in any situation. Not only does he have a successful track record in the Premier League, but he’s the kind of no-nonsense leader a club like Sunderland so desperately needs as they find themselves in yet another relegation battle just eight games into the new season.

Short hopes to have Allardyce signed, sealed and delivered when the Premier League returns to action next weekend. In that event, Allardyce’s first game in charge of Sunderland would be a trip to West Bromwich Albion. His first home fixture? Home to Tyne-Wear derby rivals Newcastle United, a club whose boisterous fanbase still holds a great deal of disdain for Big Sam. Sometimes the football gods really are looking out for us.