'New Suarez deal on par with Arsenal signing Ozil' - Houghton

The former Liverpool midfielder believes the Uruguayan's contract extension will provide as much of a lift at Anfield as the purchase of the German did at the Emirates Stadium
By Russell Stoddart

Former Liverpool midfielder Ray Houghton believes Luis Suarez's contract extention is on par with Arsenal's signing of Mesut Ozil.

Suarez signed a new, long-term contract on Friday, which is thought to eventually be worth up to £200,000 a week.

And Houghton believes the deal will provide as big a lift at Anfield as the deadline-day signing of Ozil did at the Emirates Stadium.

15/1 Luis Suarez is 15/1 with Bet365 to score as Liverpool beat Cardiff 1-0
"It will give the whole club a lift, particularly the players, because it ends the uncertainty of whether Luis was staying or going," Houghton told Goal.

"To lose one of your two world class players – the other being Steven Gerrard – would have been a major setback just as the club was being put on the right footing.

"In that regard, I compare it to Mesut Ozil signing for Arsenal from Real Madrid. Ozil was big statement from Arsenal that they meant business and Luis’s new contract shows that Liverpool mean business, too.

"The main thing for Brendan Rodgers is that there will be less negative distractions for him to worry about over the busy new few weeks and, of course, the January transfer window. He can focus on the playing side and who he can get to strengthen his squad, rather than the prospect of losing his best player."

However, Houghton did offer a word of caution, suggesting that Suarez may not necessarily see out the length of his contract.

He added: "I don’t think this necessarily means that Luis will see the length of the contract through, or even beyond the next year or so.

"The club is boxing clever and protecting a huge asset. It only means that we can rest assured he’ll be at Anfield for the foreseeable future, no one is going to get him on the cheap and it will take a silly offer for him to leave any time soon."

Former Liverpool striker John Aldridge, meanwhile, believes Suarez's new deal is a statement of intent from a club that they can again be considered a force.

"There was a lot of talk about Luis leaving if he didn’t see an improvement in the playing side; this shows that Luis believes the club is moving in the right direction," he said.

"He wanted Champions League football and he has clearly seen enough to believe that is more than just a possibility for next season. He is a winner and wants to be at a winning club and that’s what Brendan Rodgers is turning Liverpool into."

Aldridge also believes the contract extension is boss Rodgers' biggest achievement in his time so far at Anfield, with the atmosphere at the club behind the scenes playing a huge part in persuading Suarez to stay.

He continued: "Sometimes it is little things off the pitch that can make all the difference to what happens on it and I believe that this news will give the club a real boost at the end of what has been a magnificent week [after beating Tottenham 5-0 at White Hart Lane].

"What I’ve seen watching their games and being around the club is that there is a great morale amongst the players and staff and that is something that was always a big factor in the club’s heyday.

"It’s another pat on the back for Brendan who had some difficulties last season - but he’s showing how good a manager he really is this season. In my opinion persuading Luis to commit to a new deal tops the list of all his achievements so far this season."