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Luis Suarez signs new deal at title-chasing Liverpool

updated 12:30 PM EST, Fri December 20, 2013
Luis Suarez's goals have fueled Liverpool's title challenge in the English Premier League this season. Luis Suarez's goals have fueled Liverpool's title challenge in the English Premier League this season.
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Luis Suarez signs new deal at English Premier League Liverpool
  • Uruguayan international on four-and-half-year contract until 2018
  • Has scored 17 goals in 11 EPL starts this season
  • Speculation about his future intensified during last transfer window

(CNN) -- Luis Suarez committed his "long term" future to Liverpool Friday by signing a new four-and-a-half year deal with the English Premier League giants.

The 26-year-old Uruguayan international has bagged a league-leading 17 goals in 11 EPL starts this season to lead Liverpool's title challenge.

Suarez was the subject of two bids in the last transfer window from Arsenal, who currently top the standings, two points clear of second-placed Liverpool.

Read: Suarez double fires title push

But after his superb start to the current campaign he has chosen to extend his current contract, which was due to expire in 2016.

"I am delighted to have agreed a new deal with Liverpool and have my future secured for the long term," Suarez told Liverpool's official website.

"We have some great players and the team is growing and improving all the time. I believe I can achieve the ambitions of winning trophies and playing at the very highest level with Liverpool. My aim is to help get us there as quickly as possible," he added.

 Liverpool's Luis Suarez has been banned for 10 games by the English Football Association for biting Chelsea's Branislav Ivanovic during Sunday's match at Anfield. It was the latest example of a player displaying questionable behavior in front of a vast array of television cameras. As football coverage has grown over the last two decades, so has the scrutiny placed on the stars of the "beautiful game." In this gallery, CNN highlights times when players have seemingly forgotten the eyes of the world are watching... Liverpool's Luis Suarez has been banned for 10 games by the English Football Association for biting Chelsea's Branislav Ivanovic during Sunday's match at Anfield. It was the latest example of a player displaying questionable behavior in front of a vast array of television cameras. As football coverage has grown over the last two decades, so has the scrutiny placed on the stars of the "beautiful game." In this gallery, CNN highlights times when players have seemingly forgotten the eyes of the world are watching...
Luis the loose cannon
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Moments of madness: Soccer stars behaving badly Moments of madness: Soccer stars behaving badly
Liverpool stands by biting Suarez
Uruguay outraged over alleged racism

Manager Brendan Rodgers was naturally delighted to persuade Suarez to sign on the dotted line, with the striker integral to his plans for the club.

Read: Luis Suarez: Flawed genius?

"Luis is a world-class talent and securing his services is crucial for what we are trying to achieve here," he said.

"What's most important and most exciting is that, at just 26 years old, his best years are still ahead of him and we now know we'll be seeing him reach that potential in a Liverpool shirt."

Suarez was signed by then Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish from Ajax Amsterdam in January 2011 and immediately impressed observers.

But his time on Merseyside has also been marked by two highly controversial incidents, resulting in lengthy bans.

He was found guilty by the English Football Association (FA) of racially abusing Manchester United defender Patrice Evra at a match in October 2011 and given an eight-game suspension.

At the end of last season, Suarez appeared to bite Chelsea's Branislav Ivanovic in an EPL game at Anfield and was banned for 10 games by the FA for violent conduct.

Read: Suarez hit with 10-game bite ban

With Suarez set to miss out on the start of the new EPL campaign and reportedly wanting to leave Liverpool, Arsenal tabled a record bid of £40 million ($65.38 million) plus £1 bid, designed to invoke the exit clause in his contract.

It was rejected by Liverpool, who proceeded to make a strong start to the season, boosted by the eventual return of Suarez in late September after his ban.

He has acquired hero status with the Liverpool fans -- desperate for success after seeing arch-rivals Manchester United take over as the most successful club in English football.

Suarez said their support had "influenced his decision."

Suarez, who is expected to star for Uruguay in next year's World Cup where they will meet England in the group stages, added: "We have a special relationship; they have love for me and in return I love them back."

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