Liverpool's Suarez celebrates scoring a goal against Norwich during their English Premier League soccer match at Anfield in Liverpool

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.

Sydney FC return to winning ways in A-League

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 24:  Goalkeeper Danny Vukovic of Sydney FC makes a save as Bruno Fornaroli of City competes for the ball during the round 21 A-League match between Melbourne City and Sydney FC at AAMI Park on February 24, 2017 in Melbourne, Australia.  (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)
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SYDNEY (AP) Bobo scored twice as Sydney FC rebounded from its first loss in the A-League to beat Melbourne City 3-1 and continue atop the table.

[ MORE: Schmeichel speaks about Ranieri sacking, state of Leicester ]

Sydney’s ambitious attempt to become the first team to end the regular season unbeaten came unstuck last week when it was beaten by Western Sydney Wanderers in a fractious local derby, repercussions of which continued through the week. Wanderers were fined $20,000 by Football Federation Australia after its fans unfurled an obscene banner targeting Sydney coach Graham Arnold.

[ MORE: Chelsea, Everton extend unbeaten run in Saturday’s PL play ]

Sydney raised itself above that controversy on Friday with a comprehensive win over Melbourne City which briefly took it 11 points clear in first place.

Melbourne Victory restored the gap to eight points when it beat defending champion Adelaide United 2-1, and Perth leapfrogged Melbourne City into third place when it dumped the Wanderers 2-0.

Bobo opened Sydney’s scoring with a penalty, but City canceled that out only a minute later.

Sydney went in front again after the break, and Bobo sealed the win, set up by a superb through ball by Milos Ninkovic which highlighted their developing combination.

Midfielder Brandon O’Neil said Sydney was determined to leave behind the contention of their derby loss.

“When it all came out, the FFA and Western Sydney had to deal with it and it did,” O’Neil said. “It brought us together and we spoke about a few things, and nothing changed for us. We want to be premier (champions).”

Melbourne Victory’s win over Adelaide kept it in touch with Sydney with seven regular season rounds remaining.

Wellington kept its faint playoff hopes alive, staying in seventh place with a 2-1 win over Brisbane.

Whitecaps acquire U.S. defender Brek Shea in deal with Orlando City

Toronto FC v Orlando City SC
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With almost a week to go until the Major League Soccer season kicks off, the Vancouver Whitecaps and Orlando City may have pulled off one of the biggest trades of offseason.

[ MORE: MLS negotiating to bring Chicharito to U.S. in 2018 ]

The clubs announced on Saturday that the Whitecaps have acquired U.S. Men’s National Team midfielder/defender Brek Shea in exchange for forward Giles Barnes, who is headed to Orlando City.

“We are excited to welcome Brek to our club and city,” said Whitecaps FC manager Carl Robinson. “Brek is a tall, physical, skilled player and will bring a different dimension to our attack. Brek will join the group in coming days and we anticipate he will be available for selection as early as this Thursday’s Champions League match against New York.”

Shea, 26, began his career in MLS with FC Dallas before heading to England for a brief stint with Stoke City. The U.S. defender made his way back to MLS ahead of Orlando City’s inaugural season in 2015 and started 39 matches in that span.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]

Meanwhile, Barnes has scored 33 goals since joining MLS in 2012. The 28-year-old forward played with the Houston Dynamo before spending last season with the Whitecaps.

Report: MLS negotiating to bring Chicharito to U.S. in 2018

Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez, Bayer Leverkusen & Mexico
AP Photo/Martin Meissner)
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Major League Soccer has attracted some of the world’s biggest stars over recent years and now one of the Mexican national team’s top talents could be heading stateside very soon.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]

According to ESPN FC, MLS is currently in negotiations with Bundesliga side Bayer Leverkusen in an attempt to lure Mexican striker Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez to the U.S. in the summer of 2018.

Expansion side Los Angeles FC has been heavily linked with Hernandez, with the club making its entrance into MLS in 2018. Additionally, the Los Angeles Galaxy have also been said to have strong ties with Chicharito.

Hernandez, 28, is currently under contract until next summer, and MLS is reportedly seeking a move in 2018 to avoid paying a transfer fee for the El Tri forward.

ESPN FC is also reporting that Chicharito could make around $9 million annually if he does in fact join MLS.

In 2015, Orlando City and the Chicago Fire were both linked with acquiring Hernandez but the Leverkusen forward was insistent upon the fact that he play Champions League football.

PL Sunday: Spurs look to regain second against Stoke

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Although there’s only one match on Sunday’s Premier League docket, the fixture bears great weight for both clubs.

[ MORE: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Tottenham vs. Stoke City — 8:30 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

Spurs have the chance to move back into second place at White Hart Lane as Mauricio Pochettino‘s side are firmly in a battle to finish runners’ up to Chelsea this season. Tottenham currently sit 13 points out of the top spot, however, five clubs are within four points of another in the battle for second. Danny Rose and Erik Lamela remain sidelined due to injuries but Spurs will remain the favorites in the fixture after having won their previous two league meetings.

Stoke enters Sunday having gone unbeaten in five of its last six PL matches and the Potters can enter the top 10 with a victory. Mark Hughes‘ side could be given a big lift with the potential return of Xherdan Shaqiri while Saido Berahino could be in line to earn his first start since joining Stoke. Both players could present massive upside for the Potters, who have struggled to find goals as of late. In their last four matches, Stoke have managed just three finishes, one of which came from an own goal.