Owen backs Reds for glory

Owen backs Reds for glory

Former Liverpool striker Michael Owen believes his old club have the credentials to not only secure a Champions League return but to win the Barclays Premier League title this season.

The free-scoring Reds are currently second in the table and would take over from Arsenal, for two days at least, with victory over Cardiff at Anfield on Saturday.

And with preliminary talks about a new contract for 17-goal striker Luis Suarez mooted on Wednesday, Owen can envisage manager Brendan Rodgers lifting a trophy come the end of the season.

“Liverpool are fully deserving of being labelled title contenders,” he wrote in a blog on Sportlobster. “The Reds are firmly back in the big time.

“The noises I am hearing are that (Brendan) Rodgers has money to spend this coming window and should he unearth another couple of gems, I certainly wouldn’t back against them lifting some silverware come May.”

Managing director Ian Ayre flew to Barcelona to speak to Uruguay international Suarez’s agents about the possibility of a new deal, Press Association Sport understands.

It seems unlikely the 26-year-old will agree to extend his stay beyond the 2016 end of his current deal until he knows whether the club have qualified for the Champions League.

Even then that may not necessarily be enough to keep him but, having previously pledged his support until the end of the season, the league’s leading scorer seemed fully focused in restoring Liverpool’s place among Europe’s elite.

That is a far cry from the summer when he was very outspoken with his frustrations about not being allowed to leave for a Champions League club, especially after Arsenal lodged a bid of £40,000,001 in the mistaken belief it would trigger a release clause.

But while everything seems relatively stable with Suarez at the moment former Reds midfielder Dietmar Hamann believes the club need a long-term personal commitment in addition to any new contract.

“What must not happen is we have a situation next summer as we had last summer,” said the German, a Champions League winner with Liverpool in 2005.

“He could sign a new contract now, take the £200,000 a week, the team finishes outside the top four and you have the same shenanigans.

“I want him to stay but there needs to be clarity. He has got to understand what it means to commit.

“If there is a clause that he can go for £60million, £80million and someone pays it, that is obviously fair enough, but you can’t have a situation again like you had last summer.”

Suarez has scored 17 goals in 11 matches this season since returning from a 10-game suspension, carried over from the previous campaign, for biting Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic.

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