BRENDAN RODGERS admits Liverpool FC must show signs of progress to help fend off interest in the likes of Luis Suarez – as Stewart Downing headed towards an Anfield exit.
Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini is interested in a January move for Suarez, who is the Premier League’s joint leading scorer this season with eight goals in 11 games.
Rodgers yesterday warned Liverpool would not be drawn into a bidding war over the Uruguayan and is adamant the club cannot afford to sell the striker.
The Northern Irishman reiterated his desire to build a forward line around Suarez having previously revealed he wants “two or three” new attacking faces in the New Year.
Rodgers, however, also issued a reminder to owners Fenway Sports Group that Liverpool’s present position leaves them vulnerable to approaches from ambitious rivals for their leading players.
And asked if there was a need to demonstrate forward strides were being made, the Anfield manager said: “Yes, but that’s not purely myself. That’s the club in terms of how we go forward.
“I’m sure there will always be clubs interested in our players, like Suarez. It’s very clear we’re not interested in selling our best players so it’s straightforward.
“But it’s inevitable teams will try to take our best players. It’s where we’re at. It’s something I’ll always fight to protect the club and its assets.
“The modern game is very much about player movement – that’s part of football these days. But I will always fight to keep our best assets here.
“This is an incredible club to be involved with. Hopefully over the coming years we can return to that level where players were here to win things and want to come here.”
While Mancini wants to sign Suarez, any bid would be dependent on the City manager persuading his board to release the funds for a player the Italian values in the £40million bracket.
Rodgers, though, yesterday reiterated neither Liverpool nor Suarez have any intention of a parting of ways in the New Year.
“There will be no bidding war,” said the manager, who . “He’s staying here. If you lose Luis, then we will have no strikers!
“He’s certainly not someone we want to sell or move on. Luis has already shown his commitment in the summer by signing a new deal.
“We want to continue to build the group around him. We are in the very early stages of trying to form something at the club and Luis is an integral part of that.
“You have someone who up until now has been in a great moment in his football life here at Liverpool. He’s very happy here.”
However, there could be one high-profile exit in the form of Downing, who has been told he is surplus to requirements and will be made available for transfer in January.
Downing has struggled to come close to living up to his near-£20m price tag since being signed by Kenny Dalglish 18 months ago.
The 28-year-old has scored just four goals in 60 appearances for Liverpool and has infamously yet to score or contribute a direct assist in a Premier League match.
Downing hasn’t started a league match since being substituted in the opening-day defeat at West Bromwich Albion, and Rodgers has clearly finally lost patience in the winger.