Rodgers back Suarez for recognition ahead of Spurs visit to Anfield.
Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers has backed Luis Suarez to beat Gareth Bale to the Player of the Season award – ahead of Tottenham’s visit to Anfield on Sunday.
Suarez and Bale have joined Robin van Persie in an elite Premier League trio, one of whom looks certain to bag the top award at the end of the season.
And with the Manchester United striker’s goals having dried up of late, it is arguably the Uruaguayan and the Welshman who are neck-and-neck to be named the best player in the Premier League.
Bale has bagged 11 goals for club and country in his last nine games and will arrive on Merseyside as one of the most in-form players in world football.
But Suarez has netted 15 goals in his last 14 matches, an equally astonishing run, and Rodgers believes the forward’s consistency sets him apart from his peers.
“People are talking about the footballer of the year, and if we are talking about football, he has consistently done it this season,” Rodgers is quoted as saying by the Daily Mirror.
The Reds boss also stressed that Suarez is ‘trying to change’, as he adapts to life in the England midway through his second season at Anfield.
“He is also a man who is trying to change – he is trying really hard to turn around his life and adapt to the culture and the mentality in our game, and I think people have clearly seen that.
“Because he is a foreign player, he gets labelled more. If a British player did [some of the things Suarez has been accused of], we would maybe laugh about it. I know his character and I know just how much desire to win he has – that is his culture and his life.
“There are cultural differences in this country, but to his credit he is trying learn and embrace it and I believe that should be recognised.”
Suarez was criticised for diving earlier in the campaign but appears to have stayed on his feet in the box of late.
Bale, by contrast, picked up his fourth booking of the season for simulation in Spurs’ 3-0 Europa League win over Inter Milan on Thursday.
Suarez has also curbed his on-pitch aggression and his new attitude is paying dividends, as he currently sits just seven goals shy of Robbie Fowler’s record of 28 goals in Premier League season.
It promises to be a mouth-watering match up between Suarez and Bale but Rodgers is in no doubt who he’d prefer, while the Welsh tactician also alluded to his compatriot’s propensity to go down easily.
“There’s no doubt Luis is judged differently. There was an incident in the Spurs game the other night, and it wasn’t even mentioned. Had it been Luis, I’d have been answering questions for about half an hour afterwards,” the Reds boss said.
“That’s why I defend Luis. If players or people are judging him on his football then he’s been consistently the best player right the way through the season.
“We hope we are judging him by his qualities on the field and those have been in evident. What is evident too, is you can clearly see with Luis that he has taken on board everything, and you can see that change in him.”
Tottenham will arrive at Anfield in third, seven points clear of fith-placed Arsenal, who do not play at this weekend.
Liverpool, meanwhile sit eighth, 12 points behind Spurs but still in with a good chance of automatic qualification for next season’s Europa League.