Liverpool set to open contract talks with Luis Suarez, why he should be handed a blank check

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On Friday morning Brendan Rodgers announced that Liverpool are preparing themselves to sit down with star striker Luis Suarez and work on a potential new contract.

Suarez, 26, has been in scintillating form since returning from his ban earlier this season and has scored 13 goals in just nine PL games.

The Uruguayan forward is in the form of his life and with that in mind, Liverpool are looking to tie him down to a long-term deal at Anfield. Suarez still has two and a half years left on his current deal but with the World Cup coming up and the feisty striker set to be a star in Brazil, Liverpool will be hoping he commits his future to the Premier League side.

Of course you will remember the protracted transfer saga surrounding Suarez throughout the past summer when he stated he wanted to leave Liverpool and Arsenal put in a bid, whilst Real Madrid, Chelsea and others were sniffing around. But after all that, Suarez looks happy and at home at Liverpool and his four stunning goals (watch above) against Norwich on Wednesday prove he’s at the top of his game.

“We want him to stay and, with his contract running for two and a half years, I am sure there will be something between now and the end of the season to keep him here,” Rodgers told Sky Sports. “The most important thing is that the player is happy. I think all parties are fairly comfortable at the moment. We made our feelings known in the summer and it is where it is. The only concentration now for us and Luis is to keep him playing at that level, and the rest takes care of itself.”

Over the summer an agreement was said to be in place between Suarez, his agent and the club that if a side offering UEFA Champions League soccer came in for him, he could leave Anfield. However, the club reject any notion of that ever being part of his contract, informally or formally. But you have to think if Livepool don’t qualify for the UCL this season, Suarez may be on his way out of Anfield after the World Cup this summer.

source: AP
Suarez is happy and on the top of his game at Anfield… why would he leave?

“Is his future here linked with the Champions League?” Rodgers said. “It is linked with him being the best player he can be, playing at the highest level he can. He has two and a half years left on his contract, so there will be another two years to go in the summer. That’s all there is to be said. But I just have a feeling, an inkling (that he may stay), and it is based on where he is in his life and conversations with him. His behavior, mannerisms and performance levels tell me he is very happy being with Liverpool and in the Premier League. That gives me confidence.”

One thing is for sure, Liverpool can’t afford to not have Suarez on their side. With him they have a chance of making the Champions League. He is arguably the most in-form striker on the planet right now and if he does get the chance to shine in European club soccer’s biggest stage with the Reds, then I think his legendary status at Anfield will be rubber-stamped as he helps usher in a new successful era at the famous club. He can change the game in an instant in Liverpool’s favor as players that do that are worth their weight in gold.

Liverpool’s American owner John W. Henry should not play harball with these contract negotiations. Give Suarez whatever deal he wants, just make sure he remains a red. Then, and only then, can Liverpool fans look to the future with optimism and certainty that they will at least be perennial challengers for the Champions League spots.

Suarez must stay.

Rio prosecutors launch probe into soccer final violence

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RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) Prosecutors in Rio de Janeiro launched an investigation Thursday into the fan violence surrounding the Copa Sudamericana final between local club Flamengo and Argentine team Independiente.

[ SOURCE: LAFC close to signing third DP, Geraldes of Sporting CP ]

Clashes broke out on the night before Wednesday’s match at Maracana Stadium, and continued throughout the day. There was vandalism inside the stadium during the match and violence afterward, with more than 50 Flamengo supporters being detained over the two days.

The Rio prosecutor’s office said in a statement it would be questioning officials at Brazil’s football confederation, South American soccer’s ruling body, CONMEBOL, and local police about the incidents.

The statement added that “a profound investigation of the facts is needed so we can identify and punish the criminals that disguised as fans to spread chaos, fear and disorder in society.”

Major Silvio Luiz, head of policing for the final, criticized Flamengo’s handling of ticket sales.

Flamengo drew the second-leg match 1-1, and lost the final 3-2 on aggregate. The Copa is the second most prestigious club competition in South American soccer.

Ligue 1 set to use VAR starting in 2018/19 season

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With video replay technology becoming more and more prevalent in soccer across the globe, another major European league has revealed it too will join those ranks.

[ SOURCE: LAFC set to sign third DP with Sporting CP’s Geraldes ]

Ligue 1 has announced that the French top flight will begin to utilize video replay and have a video assistant referee (VAR) starting in the 2018/19 season.

Major League Soccer and the German Bundesliga are just two of the major global leagues to implement the system thus far. In MLS, the technology can be used in four instances; when goals are scored, during penalty situations, when a straight red card is given and during cases of mistaken identity.

French outlet L’Equipe wrote on Thursday that Ligue 1 would also follow a similar structure in what decisions VAR officials will be reviewable.

Spain has also announced that it will introduce VAR in 2018, ahead of the next La Liga season.

Top Premier League storylines — Week 17

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The title is looking more and more like it’s heading to Manchester, so will Tottenham be able to slow the Premier League leaders on Saturday?

[ MORE: Prince-Wright’s Premier League picks ]

 

Here are the four biggest storylines ahead of this weekend’s action.

Can anyone stop the Cityzens?

Manchester City vs. Tottenham Hotspur — 12:30 p.m. ET Saturday on NBC (Watch online at NBCSports.com)

Nobody has found a way to halt Pep Guardiola‘s side yet this season in PL play, so why would that change this weekend? City remain unbeaten through 17 matches, and while Spurs enter the weekend unbeaten in its last four, Mauricio Pochettino and Co. have their work cut out. The City attack, which has scored 52 goals this season, has shown no signs slowing down during the first four-and-a-half months of play, giving Tottenham a big test defensively. Harry Kane and his 12 goals will surely have a say in the get together, but Spurs has been lacking thus far in another go-to finisher.

Will the Toffees keep rolling under Big Sam?

Everton vs. Swansea City — 3 p.m. ET Monday on NBCSN (Watch online at NBCSports.com)

It’s been quite the turnaround recently at Goodison Park, and Everton has the chance to extend its unbeaten streak to six games on Monday. Sam Allardyce has brought life to the Toffees as of late, with Everton scoring 11 goals over the last five matches.

Foxes aim to climb higher, while Palace shoots for safety

Leicester City vs. Crystal Palace — 7:30 a.m. ET Saturday on NBCSN (Watch online at NBCSports.com)

The Foxes have found their footing this season, and dare I say there are some glimpses of the team that won the title two years ago? Since Leicester’s 2-0 defeat to Man City, the Foxes have looked the part of a top-tier PL side, winning four of five matches, including victories over Tottenham and Burnley. Meanwhile, Palace has made the relegation battle a very intriguing one, as Roy Hodgson and Co. sit just a point inside the bottom three. Amazingly, Palace is unbeaten in seven of its last eight matches, but the club remains in 18th place.

Clarets aim for third consecutive victory

Brighton vs. Burnley — 10 a.m. ET Saturday on NBC Sports Gold (Watch online at NBCSports.com)

The Clarets don’t boast a bonafide goalscorer, but Burnley looks like a well-oiled machine as Sean Dyche‘s side sits on the edge of the top four. Although the side likely won’t be pulling off a Leicester-sided feat in 2017/18, what the Clarets are accomplishing is quite amazing given the squad currently in place. Brighton has gone through its share of struggles recently, going winless in its last six matches, and scoring just three goals in that span. They’ll likely have a hard time breaking past Burnley’s tough backline.

NYCFC busy on Thursday with Abdul-Salaam, Stuver additions

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New York City FC is moving on from the club’s first-ever MLS SuperDraft selection, but they’ll be acquiring a solid defensive piece as the team continues to rebuild at the back.

[ SOURCE: LAFC finalizing deal to make Sporting CP’s Geraldes third DP ]

On Thursday, NYCFC announced a trade sending former 2015 first-round pick Khiry Shelton to Sporting KC in exchange for defender Saad Abdul-Salaam.

Shelton, who spent three seasons with NYCFC, struggled to find playing time under manager Patrick Vieira, particularly once the organization drafted England youth international Jack Harrison in 2016.

Vieira and Co. will be getting back a player also selected in the 2015 SuperDraft in Abdul-Salaam.

With the departures of Ethan White, RJ Allen and Andraz Struna this offseason, the move certainly makes sense for NYCFC, who were severely lacking at the right back position heading into this week.

NYCFC signed Malmo defender Anton Tinnerholm on Wednesday to help improve the backline.

The Eastern Conference side also added goalkeeper Brad Stuver from the Columbus Crew on Thursday, with the 26-year-old presumably serving as the backup to Sean Johnson in 2018.