Sunderland boss believes Liverpool would not be in the Premier League title race if it weren’t for the prolific goalscoring form of striker Luis Suarez.

Poyet’s Uruguayan compatriot is leading the top flight’s scoring charts with 28 goals so far this season – two more than Sunderland's entire squad has managed ­– despite missing out on the opening six games of the campaign due to a ten-match ban for biting.

Fellow Reds forward Daniel Sturridge has also played a huge role in Liverpool’s push for a first league title since 1990, with the pair netting a combined 47 strikes, while the flourishing Jordan Henderson, Raheem Sterling and Philippe Coutinho have also impressed for the Merseyside outfit.

But Poyet, who has been an admirer of Suarez for since his teenage years, still believes Brendan Rodgers’ men would be languishing in mid-table without the clinical frontman.

"I saw him once in a summer friendly game. He was just starting, I think he was 17 or 18. He was a powerful striker playing on his own, but of course, not the player we are seeing today,” said the Sunderland manager.

"To be honest, I wasn't even thinking he would be so good. He played a decent game, but now he is on another level.

"Now you can compare him with the top players in the world because he makes the difference somehow.

"I am not surprised, that's why Liverpool have got a chance, but without Suarez they would probably be in mid-table.

"It's not about how they play, how they defend, how they pass the ball, it's about having a player who is going to be voted the best player of the year by everybody, if we are honest."

Second-placed Liverpool are just four points of table-topping Chelsea largely thanks to their prolific strike duo.