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The midfielder insists the Uruguay international, who is wanted by Arsenal, is vital to the club's bid to secure a place in the Champions League

Liverpool midfielder Stewart Downing has urged the club to retain the services of Luis Suarez this summer.

The striker is currently preparing to hand in a formal transfer request in order to secure a move to Arsenal, who submitted a £42 million (€48.65m) bid for the Uruguay international on Monday.

Downing maintains Suarez has been welcomed back to pre-season by the Liverpool players, despite his public desire to leave Anfield this summer, and revealed the squad have held talks about the situation with manager Brendan Rodgers.

“It's so important for us to keep hold of him as Luis is one hell of a player," Downing is quoted as saying by The Sun.

“He's had some good discussions with the manager, which will remain private.

“For us, as players, nothing changes. He's still the same player and he's a great lad to have around the place.

“He gets on well with all the lads. Luis knows we all want him to stay. It’d be so disappointing to lose him.”

Downing believes Suarez is vital for the club's bid to regain a place in the Champions League and says the form Liverpool showed towards the end of last term shows much promise.

“What's going on with Luis isn't a distraction. Pre-season has gone really well and we've got some good results. Now we want to really push on," he said.

“Since he came back Luis has been training really well and I think whatever happens with his Liverpool future will be sorted out in the next week or two.

“We want to keep our best players to help us get into the Champions League. That has to be our aim. We've strengthened the squad with new signings and I'm sure there will be a few more to come.

“If we can reproduce the form we showed in the second half of last season, we'll have a good chance of breaking into that top four.

“We want Luis to be part of that. He's a top player, one of the best in the world - we saw that with the goals he scored last season.”

Suarez, who arrived at Anfield from Ajax in January 2011, netted 23 times in 33 Premier League appearances last season.

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