LONDON (AFP) – Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard dealt a blow to Arsenal's pursuit of Luis Suarez on Tuesday by declaring that his unsettled team-mate will not be allowed to join another English club.
Arsenal have had two bids for the Uruguayan rejected and Suarez has been made to train on his own by Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers after accusing the club of breaking promises by refusing to let him leave.
Speaking at a press conference ahead of England's friendly against Scotland on Wednesday, Gerrard said he would hate to see the 26-year-old striker depart.
"I think it's very important (that Suarez stays). He's one of the best players in the world and I can certainly understand why clubs are are showing an interest in him," Gerrard said.
"If I can use my influence to try and make him stay, of course I'll try and do that, because I love playing with him and I don't want him to go. For Liverpool to be successful moving forward, we have to try and keep our best players."
Asked how hopeful he was that Suarez would stay, Gerrard admitted he did not know how the saga would conclude but said he was optimistic he would not leave for a domestic rival.
"At the moment, I haven't got a clue," he said. "That's my honest opinion. I don't know what's going to happen over the next couple of weeks, but I'm really confident he won't be going to anyone else in England."
Suarez has scored 51 goals in 96 appearances since joining Liverpool from Ajax in January 2011, but says he wants to join a club who have qualified for this season's Champions League.
Gerrard was also asked about the mindset of England team-mate Wayne Rooney, who is reportedly considering his future at Manchester United and has been the subject of two unsuccessful offers from Chelsea.
Rooney is scheduled to feature against Scotland despite having missed the whole of United's pre-season campaign with hamstring and shoulder injuries, but Gerrard said he had shown no signs of unease in training.
"Everyone knows he's certainly not match-fit because he hasn't played in any friendly games throughout the summer, but it's the same old Wayne Rooney in training," the midfielder said.
"He looks good, he's scoring goals and he's certainly ready to play. He's prepared really well, but he needs these minutes for his own personal fitness and I'm sure he's itching to start tomorrow."
Asked if he had spoken to Rooney about his situation at United, Gerrard would only reply: "Yeah, we have, yeah."
Pushed to provide more information, he said: "It's none of my business and I don't think it's fair on Wayne for me to talk about what we've spoken about.
"Of course I'm close to him, and I respect his situation, but for me it's all about how Wayne Rooney's feeling for tomorrow's game and I'm sure he'll sort the other problems out himself."
England manager Roy Hodgson hopes Rooney will be fit and firing for the resumption of World Cup qualifying in September and Gerrard said the former Everton striker was central to the national team's hopes of booking a berth in Brazil.
"I think he's shown over the years how important he is for this team," he said.
"Everyone looks to Wayne for the inspiration and the key to help get us to major tournaments. He's one of our best players so it's important he gets match-fit as soon as possible. We need him firing over these four important qualifiers."