Suarez and Gerrard both nominated for PFA award, as Liverpool dominate.

Champions League “dream” fuels Luis Suarez’s decision to stay at Liverpool – Can he deliver?

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After signing his new lucrative long-term deal, Luis Suarez has given us a little bit of insight as to why he dedicated his future to Liverpool Football Club.

The Uruguayan superstar, who leads the Premier League in goals with 17 in 11 games, extended his stay at Anfield following intense speculation over the last six months that his future would lie elsewhere.

Suarez, 26, is aiming to lead the Merseyside outfit back to success domestically and, most importantly, get back into the Champions League for the first-time since the 2008-09 season.

“The first dream for me is to play in the Champions League with Liverpool,” Suarez said. “It’s my hope and my dream. I think when we have very good players, we can try our best at the Premier League. I think if we stay at this level, we can fight with other teams at the top of the table.”

With Suarez on board for the foreseeable future, you have to think finishing in the top four of the PL is a hugely reachable target for Brendan Rodgers’ men. Having him around will attract better players, force stars like Phillipe Coutinho, Daniel Sturridge and others to stick around plus his incredible goal ratio will give the Reds a chance of success every single season.

But will the intense pressure heaped on Suarez’s shoulders be too much for him to handle? I doubt it.

(MORE: Luis Suarez signs new long-term deal at Liverpool)

Suarez is one of the most driven individuals to ever play in the PL. The way he leaves every ounce of effort out on the pitch during every game means Liverpool’s fans idolize him, plus the fact that he’s a fantastic talent that can score goals of any kind from anywhere on the pitch adds to his legendary status. His appetite for success will drive his teammates on to strive to get better and when Suarez is on form, Liverpool have been almost unplayable at times this season.

And it is the year that provides the Reds with their best chance in many years to crack the top four once again.

source: Getty Images
Luis Suarez has been in terrific form this campaign, scoring sensational goals and plenty of them. Can he lead Liverpool to success in Europe?

With so much uncertainty in and around the upper echelons of the PL standings, Suarez’ huge goal haul has helped his side stay in touch with league leaders Arsenal and they have a chance to go top, albeit temporarily, with a win over Cardiff at Anfield on Saturday. Their pint-sized Uruguayan terror is relentless and is hungry to give something back to the fans, club and city that supported him when he went through an extremely tough spell over the summer.

Banned by the English FA for 10-games after biting Branislav Ivanovic at the end of the 2012-13 season, Suarez said he wanted to leave Liverpool. But the attitude of the fans persuaded him to stay, and that same love and affection now sees him extending his contract for many years to come.

“I like the city; I love the city and the supporters. They help me and I try my best on the pitch for them,” Suarez said. “The summer was a difficult time, but they helped me to come back and play. And I think that when the supporters help you off the pitch, you try your best on the pitch and try to produce fantastic work on the field, so that they are happy.”

Suarez and Liverpool’s fans share the same dream: to make it back to the Champions League.

Liverpool have won that famous trophy five times and with Suarez on board firing on all cylinders, he dreams of adding more UCL and PL titles to one of England’s most successful ever teams.

Klopp hopes for speedy solution in club, fans’ ticket-price dispute

Liverpool's fans wave flags during the English League Cup semifinal second leg soccer match between Liverpool and Stoke City at Anfield stadium in Liverpool, England, Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2016. (AP Photo/Jon Super)
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From his time at Borussia Dortmund, Jurgen Klopp is used to a much more positive, family-like, everyone-pulling-in-the-same-direction atmosphere at his club of employment, so the present goings-on at Liverpool understandably have the Reds’ first-year manager feeling more than a little uneasy.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Saturday’s late 2-2 draw with Sunderland wasn’t the first time Liverpool fans have headed for the exit before the final whistle, leaving Klopp feeling all alone, but it was the first time the fans have departed from Anfield early in a pre-planned, organized manner (Klopp missed the game himself with appendicitis). The Anfield faithful didn’t walk out on 77 minutes due to their team’s poor performance — Liverpool were 2-0 ahead at the time — but in protest of steadily rising ticket prices, which were unveiled at $111 per game to sit in the 132-year-old stadium’s new main stand next season.

Klopp, coming from the Bundesliga, where a season ticket at clubs the size of Bayern Munich and Dortmund doesn’t cost much more than a single-game ticket at many Premier League grounds, understands the fans’ frustration. At the end of the day, though, he works for the club, which is why he just wants the whole thing settled quickly, for the sake of his squad — quotes from the BBC:

“It’s not what we want. What I know is everyone in the club has a big interest in finding a solution for this. We don’t want people to leave the stadium before the game is finished.”

An LFC TV appearance by Liverpool chief executive Ian Ayre, in which he was expected to answer fan-submitted questions, was consequently canceled on Monday due to the ongoing dispute.

West Ham want Payet to sign new contract for fear of losing him this summer

Dimitri Payet, West Ham United FC (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
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Dimitri Payet is going to be a red-hot commodity during this summer’s transfer window, there’s no doubt about it.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Given he’s currently contracted to one of the Premier League’s “smaller” clubs — in comparison to some of the giants which are bound to be interested — West Ham United, there’s a decent-to-good chance he could be wearing a different club’s shirt come August. Especially if the 28-year-old attacker shows up and shows out at this summer’s European Championship in his native France.

If I can foresee the interest in Payet, then so too can the executives at West Ham, which is why manager Slaven Bilic took to the press on Monday to convey his desire for Payet to consider signing a new, increased contract at his earliest convenience — quotes from the Guardian:

“We are moving, the club is moving, with the new stadium, with the revenue and everything. We have to move and the most important move is to keep your best players and to add some new players who are needed and Dimitri Payet is our best player — I have no problem whatsoever to say that. Of course, I would love to have him happy, long term, at the club.”

Of course West Ham want Payet to sign a new deal immediately — doing so would accomplish two things in the club’s eyes: 1) increase the likelihood he remains at the club next season, or 2) insure the club receives a higher transfer fee for the player if he leaves in the summer anyway. The more total money remaining on his West Ham contract, the more they can demand of a prospective buyer.

[ MORE: Ronaldo commits himself to Real Madrid through 2018 ]

From Payet’s side — unless he has absolutely zero desire to move to a club like Liverpool, Chelsea or Manchester United, where he’d likely be paid close to $200,000 per week — he’d be crazy to sign a new contract at this point. Not only would it make a move this summer more difficult, but a strong showing at EURO 2016 could be worth another $15,000 or $20,000 per week on a new contract with West Ham (his current contract is rumored to be close to $100,000 per week).

With as many as five seasons still remaining on his current contract (a one-year club option can be exercised at any point), and his stock perhaps at an all-time high, the next six months could hold Payet’s last chance to get really, really paid before he hits the downside of his career.

USWNT players’ union responds in USSF lawsuit

FILE - In this Sunday, July 5, 2015 file photo, the United States Women's National Team celebrates with the trophy after they beat Japan 5-2 in the FIFA Women's World Cup soccer championship in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. The U.S. Soccer Federation’s original lawsuit against the union for its champion women’s national team has been sealed after the governing body realized it had disclosed the home addresses and email accounts of many players, Thursday, Feb. 4, 2016.(AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)
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(AP) — The union that represents the Women’s World Cup-winning American national team opposed an expedited schedule in the lawsuit filed against it by the U.S. Soccer Federation last week, insisting no collective bargaining agreement exists.

The federation sued in an attempt to establish it has a contract with the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team Players Association that runs through this year’s Olympics until Dec. 31. The union maintains the memorandum of understanding agreed to in March 2013 can be terminated at any time.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s USWNT coverage ]

The USSF filed a motion Friday in U.S. District Court in Chicago asking for an expedited schedule, and the submitted opposition papers Monday that claim “facts asserted in the motion are nowhere near accurate and are hotly disputed.”

The union also maintains the USSF knew about the disagreement since July but did nothing about it.

An initial status conference is set for April 4.

Lionel Messi to undergo tests for lingering kidney problems

FC Barcelona's Lionel Messi holds the ball during a quarterfinal, second leg, Copa del Rey soccer match against Athletic Bilbao at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, Spain, Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2016. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)
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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Barcelona says Lionel Messi is to undergo medical tests to assess a recurrence of kidney problems.

[ MORE: Saturday’s La Liga roundup | Barca win on Sunday

Messi missed the Club World Cup semifinal in December due to a renal colic, an abdominal ailment often related to the presence of kidney stones within renal ducts.

Barcelona says in a statement Monday that the tests to be conducted by Tuesday at the latest, are “to assess the evolution of the kidney problem he suffered last December.”

[ MORE: Champions League returns next week — KO round matchups ]

The statement says Messi will resume training with the squad on Wednesday, when Barcelona travels to Valencia for the return leg of the Copa del Rey semifinals in which it carries a 7-0 lead.