Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard has urged unsettled striker Luis Suarez to stay with the club for one more season to help them regain their UEFA Champions League status.
Gerrard described Suarez as "the best footballer I've ever played with" to the Daily Telegraph, launching a renewed plea for the Uruguayan to spurn moves from Arsenal to sign him. "I'd say to Luis: 'Give it one more year, see if we can achieve that'," Gerrard said.
Gerrard also said Liverpool needed to invest in a world-class defender and forward to bolster a squad which finished seventh last season. "This club needs to make one or two big signings if we are to compete for the top four - and keep Suarez. Alongside Gareth Bale, Luis is the third best player in the world after Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. Luis and Bale are the two hottest properties out there at the moment," Gerrard said.
"When you're in that position, you're going to get all kinds of teams wanting to pull you away, especially when you are at a club not in the Champions League. It's nothing to do with the British media (criticising Suarez). Knowing the guy as I do that's probably the thing on his mind: wanting to be in the Champions League."
Gerrard, 33, was speaking ahead of his testimonial match on Saturday against Greek champions Olympiakos, who were the opposition when the midfielder scored a spectacular goal in a Champions League game in 2004. "If Luis experiences Champions League football here he'll love it. They'll be some of the best nights in his career. To play Champions League football in front of our fans is special. It's an awful lot bigger than doing it at other clubs."
Gerrard said he did not believe Arsenal would be a "step up" for Suarez, despite the fact that Arsene Wenger's team have qualified for the Champions League in the upcoming season. "I don't think Arsenal is a step up. Us, Arsenal and Tottenham are fighting for one of the Champions League places. In an ideal scenario we keep Suarez, make one or two more signings and Tottenham lose Bale.
"Of course, we're slightly behind the big three (Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea), who are powerhouses at the moment. I don't want to disrespect Arsenal. They're a wonderful club with a manager who I've an awful amount of respect for and they have talented players throughout the team. But so have we. We've got just as good a chance of achieving things as Arsenal have."
Arsenal are believed to be preparing a renewed bid in excess of £40 million ($61 million) for the prolific Suarez, who has scored 51 goals in 96 appearances for Liverpool.