JAMIE CARRAGHER

"Suárez has had a direct role in Messi being number one again"

AS caught up with Jamie Carragher, one of Luis Suárez's best buddies at Liverpool. We talked Arsenal's second-leg chances against Barça - and more.

"Suárez has had a direct role in Messi being number one again"
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Former Liverpool and England defender Jamie Carragher was one of Luis Suárez's best pals during the Uruguayan's successful spell at Anfield.

And with Suárez's Barcelona hosting Arsenal in the Champions League last 16 on Wednesday, AS spoke to player-turned-pundit Carragher to seek his thoughts on the tie, the Premier League and Los Azulgranas.

Carragher tasted Champions League glory with Liverpool in 2005.

Do you believe in Arsenal's chances against Barcelona? Do you think they're in with any shout of overturning their 2-0 first-leg deficit?

No, I don't think they can turn it around.

Why? 

I think it's virtually impossible; although that's just my opinion, of course. What will be interesting is to see whether Arsene Wenger thinks likewise. If that's the case, we'll have to see what team he puts out at the Camp Nou.

They come into the clash fresh from FA Cup defeat to Watford...

That'll give them added motivation.

What was your relationship with Arsenal like during your time as a Liverpool player? 

Always very intense. We beat them in one of the most important games between the two teams: the FA Cup final in 2001. But for much of my career, they tended to have a better team and come out on top.

That was the final of the late turnaround...

Yeah. We won 2-1. [Michael] Owen got two goals in the space of five minutes and sent the whole city, and Liverpool fans the world over, wild.

Is Wenger living on past glories, or is he in an uphill financial battle against the likes of Chelsea, Manchester City and Manchester United?

He's always had that big disadvantage; at least, that's my opinion. Wenger has had to compete against at least three outfits who have more money than Arsenal. But I get the impression that with the signings of Alexis Sánchez and Mesut Özil, that might have started to change.

Suárez was a hit during his three and a half years at Anfield.

How's your mate Luis Suárez looking at Barcelona?

Sensational. Luis is the best centre-forward in the world.

Did he deserve a place among the three Ballon d'Or finalists? 

If you ask me who the best players in the world are, I'd go with Leo Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Luis Suárez.

And Neymar?

I'd pick those three.

How far can Suárez go?

Luis has directly contributed towards Barça becoming an even better team than the one coached by [Pep] Guardiola. 

That's a big statement.

I thought it'd be impossible to say that, but he has had a direct role in Messi being the number one player in the world again. Now the challenge is for him to be number one, and I think he has enough talent to do that.

Is it a failure on the part of the Premier League, with all its money, that it hasn't managed to bring together a trio like Barça's? 

The problem is always the same.

What do you mean?

All the top players want to play at Barça or Real Madrid.

Do you think the 'MSN' is the best forward line in history?

Yes. The stats speak for themselves, although for me it goes beyond the stats too. 

In what way? 

It's just a complete joy to watch the three of them playing together.

Does any game in particular stick out for you?

There are several, but the first one that comes to mind is when they thrashed Celta Vigo a few weeks ago at the Camp Nou.

Suárez and Messi (out of shot) scored an outrageous two-man penalty against Celta Vigo in February.

Why do British players seem to struggle so much in foreign football?

These days very few do go abroad.

Any particular reason?

The money there is in the Premier League. But to answer your original question, I'd say that in the case of those who do opt to try their luck abroad, there's a mentality issue rather than an ability issue. I think there's an integration problem, and that few look to really adapt to the new culture and the new language.

Everton's John Stones could be the next British player to go abroad, to Barça...

I'm not getting into that. I don't know anything about that.

Why did it not work out for Rafa Benítez at Real Madrid?

His coaching style has brought a lot of success over the years he's been a manager, but it may be that at some clubs it could at times unsettle superstars who aren't used to his methods. At least, I felt that when he tried his luck at Inter Milan in Italy, or Real Madrid in Spain.