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.

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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.

AT THE HALF: Man Utd lead Ajax in UEL final, thanks to Pogba (video)

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After 45 minutes of Wednesday’s Europa League final, between Manchester United and Ajax, in Stockholm, Sweden, Jose Mourinho’s Red Devils have one foot in next season’s UEFA Champions League.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

After a cagey opening 15 minutes that saw neither side create anything of consequence, Man United pulled ahead on a fair bit of luck in the 18th minute. Paul Pogba received the ball 25 yards from goal, took a touch toward goal and fired a low shot toward goal. Davinson Sanchez did everything he could to get his body in front of the strike, but the ball glanced off his shin, sending it one direction and goalkeeper Andre Onana the other.

[ FOLLOW LIVE: Europa League final ] 

Having conceded just eight goals in 14.5 Europa League games thus far this season, would you bet on United conceding an equalizer in the final 45 minutes? Hit the link above to follow along, live.

Valverde dismisses deal to coach Barcelona

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MADRID (AP) Departing Athletic Bilbao coach Ernesto Valverde has been avoiding talk about a possible move to Barcelona, saying he has not entered into negotiations with any club.

Valverde did not confirm reports that he has already reached a deal to coach Barcelona next season, and did not dismiss taking a year off after four seasons at Athletic.

“I haven’t committed to any club, I haven’t talked to anybody,” Valverde said. “I have an agent and there are teams that have shown interest in me. Now I have to decide whether I will take on a new adventure, and it would have to be a challenging one.”

The 53-year-old Valverde has been widely touted to replace Luis Enrique, who announced earlier this year that he was tired and would not continue as Barcelona’s coach.

The Catalan club ends its season after the Copa del Rey final against Alaves on Saturday.

The Mundo Deportivo newspaper reported this week that Valverde has already reached a two-year deal with Barcelona, with an option for a third season. The newspaper said the announcement would be made next week.

“I don’t know what’s been published,” Valverde said. “I never talk about negotiations with clubs and that won’t change. This wouldn’t be the first time that I have offers from important clubs.”

He said there was still the possibility of taking some time off and not immediately taking over another club.

“Why not?” he said. “In the end I can do whatever I want, no?”

A former forward, Valverde played two seasons with Barcelona in the late 1980s. He spent six years with Athletic from 1990-96.

Valverde didn’t hide that he will be hoping Barcelona wins the Copa del Rey title this weekend, which would guarantee Athletic a spot in the Europa League next season. Athletic finished seventh in the Spanish league, but will play in the second-tier European competition with a Barcelona victory because the Catalan club will play in the Champions League. Only the teams in fifth and sixth places automatically qualify for the Europa League.

Valverde led Athletic to victory over Barcelona in the final of the Spanish Super Cup in 2015, which marked the team’s first title in more than three decades. He also coached the club from 2003-05.

Valverde has also coached Espanyol, Olympiakos, Villarreal and Valencia.

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LIVE: Man United face Ajax in Europa League final

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Manchester United and Ajax square off in Stockholm, Sweden on Wednesday for the UEFA Europa League trophy and a place in the Champions League next season.

[ LIVE: Europa League final ] 

This a huge game for Jose Mourinho and United bad coming less than 48 hours after a suicide bomber killed 22 people in Manchester, this game has taken an entirely different complexion.

The mood around the Friends Arena is a somber one as Manchester United’s fans mourn those lost in the terror attack and people around the world send their love and prayers to Manchester.

Black armbands will be worn by both teams and there will be a minute’s silence before the game to honor the victims.

United have never won this trophy and they will have their work cut out against a young, talented Ajax side.

Click no the link above to follow the action live from Stockholm, while here at ProSoccerTalk we will have all the analysis, reaction and more from the final.

How will Man United line-up vs. Ajax in Europa League final?

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How will Jose Mourinho set up Manchester United for their crucial Europa League final against Ajax in Stockholm on Wednesday?

[ MORE: Europa League final preview ]

With an automatic UEFA Champions League spot on the line, United must win to get back to Europe’s top club competition next season. If they don’t it is back to the Europa League for Mourinho’s men.

This won’t be easy, though, as United’s defense has been ravaged by injuries in recent weeks and they’re without Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Local lad Marcus Rashford has to come up with the goods.

[ MORE: Manchester clubs react to bombing

Ajax’s young, attack-minded side will be led by Kasper Dolberg and Bertrand Traore, while Davy Klaassen will pull the strings in midfield.

Back to United, and with Mourinho confirming Sergio Romero would start in goal ahead of David De Gea, just like he has done for most of the Europa League campaign, we know one starter. In defense it is likely to be Phil Jones and Chris Smalling in the center with Eric Bailly suspended, Marcos Rojo out injured and the duo of Ashley Young and Luke Shaw also missing. Valencia and Blind should get the nod out wide with Darmian in reserve.

Midfield is where things get tricky. Michael Carrick‘s experience may be invaluable but Mourinho is likely to go with Fellaini’s grit (if he’s fit) in the engine room alongside Ander Herrera.

Ahead of them in the three attacking positions, Mkhitaryan and Pogba seem certainties to start and then it’s a straight battle between Lingard, Mata and Martial for the other spot. Lingard may just win that battle due to his superior defensive abilities, but it will be close.

Up top it will be Rashford to start with Wayne Rooney waiting in the wings in what could be his final game for United.

Take a look at our suggested lineup below. Do you agree?


Manchester United starting lineup vs. Ajax, Europa League final

—– Romero —–

— Valencia — Jones — Smalling — Blind —

—- Herrera —- Fellaini —-

— Mkhitaryan — Pogba — Lingard —

—– Rashford —–