Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard believes qualifying for the Champions League this season is key to the club's hopes of retaining star striker Luis Suarez, and admits his team-mate "deserves" to play in the competition.
The Uruguay international has been in sparkling form for the Reds in the 2012-13 season, netting 16 Premier League goals despite being involved in a number of controversies including admitting to diving against Stoke in October.
And the 32-year-old England international suggests qualification may be vital to keeping the 25-year-old at Anfield, with Goal.com exclusively revealing the forward was considering his future with Manchester City interested in him.
"I don't know, that's the answer to that," Gerrard replied when asked on Sky Sports 'Goals On Sunday' whether Suarez would remain if the club failed to qualify for the Champions League.
"I know he's recently signed a long-term contract, I know he's comfortable and happy here but I think that's a question for Luis to answer.
"Only he knows what his ambitions and dreams are but he's gone on record recently saying he's really happy and comfortable here.
"Hopefully we can put a fight on from now until the end of the season to finish fourth and we make the decision for him but Luis Suarez deserves to be in the Champions League, I think everyone has to admit that."
Gerrard praised his team-mate as one of the "top five" players in the world, and suggests his fighting spirit is exactly what Liverpool have needed during their difficult start to the season.
"We'll be talking about this guy for many many years because he's in the top five players in the world comfortably," he added. "Outside of [Lionel] Messi and [Cristiano] Ronaldo I'll argue with anyone that he's as good as anyone else.
"He's probably the best player I've played with which is a statement because I've played with some top, top players throughout my career. He does things in training and on the pitch which are mind-blowing.
"He uses every blade of grass, parts of the pitch that you don't even run on, he's impossible to mark. He's a fighter - he doesn't give up, and that's what you want in your team."