LIVERPOOL manager Brendan Rodgers hailed the Lionel Messi-like character of Luis Suarez after the striker scored twice in the 3-0 defeat of Sunderland.
The Uruguay international took his Premier League tally to 15 for the season – the first Liverpool player to do so since Fernando Torres in 2009-10 - as he followed Raheem Sterling’s clever lob which itself had elements of the Barcelona star.
Rodgers was not comparing the two South Americans in terms of talent but attitude, although the form Suarez is in at the moment he is quickly escalating himself into one of the best in the world.
“When you work with players like Luis Suarez, he is a Messi-type character in terms of he is angry when I give him a breather,” said the Reds boss. “At the start of the season I tried to rest him and he didn’t want it.
“He is a player that to be at his top of his game has to play two or three times a week, one game is not enough.
“He needs to be playing and you see the response you get from him.
“His work has never dropped, he is a real team player, he trains every single day, is never in the treatment room and then he goes out and performs.”
Rodgers felt Suarez was benefiting from the new possession style of football he has introduced at Anfield since arriving in the summer.
“As the ball moves he gets the chance to move into spaces - if he plays in a style which is direct he doesn’t get a chance to move,” added the manager.
“In a structure where the team is moving and the ball is moving his cleverness and intelligence finds the space and you can see he is thriving in the team at the moment.
“It will be fantastic to see him develop because I think there is a long way to go in his development.”
Watching the Suarez masterclass from the stands was new £12million signing Daniel Sturridge, who has been brought in to ease the supposed burden on the Uruguayan.
After failing to cut it as a youngster at Manchester City and never securing a regular first-team place at Chelsea Rodgers warned the 23-year-old this was his last chance to make it at a big club.
“We are bringing in a player who knows he has to perform if he wants to be at one of the biggest clubs in the world and this is probably his last chance,” said the Northern Irishman.
“I have every faith that over his time here he will prove a real hit and it gives us another attacking threat at the top end of the field.”
Sturridge’s arrival appears to have coincided with Joe Cole’s exit with the midfielder having talks with West Ham over a permanent deal with Liverpool willing to negotiate a pay-off on the 31-year-old’s £100,000-a-week contract.
“I’m not sure a deal has been totally agreed,” Rodgers said. “I spoke to him a couple of times earlier and he was talking with West Ham. I don’t know the total ins and outs of that (Cole’s pay-off).”
Sunderland manager Martin O'Neill felt his side paid for missing two good first-half opportunities from James McClean and Matt Kilgallon.
“I think when we had a couple of chances in the first half we really had to take one of those as it would given us a foothold,” he said.
“We have given away two poor goals but in the end we were well-beaten and Liverpool deserved to win.
“The third goal just after half-time put us really on the back foot and then Liverpool were very confident after that.”