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A few thoughts on Arsenal’s pursuit of Luis Suarez

Aug 7, 2013, 11:40 AM EDT

Liverpool v Olympiacos - Steven Gerrard Testimonial Getty Images

Despite needing a versatile defender or a strong, physical defensive midfielder more than a striker, Arsenal insist in marching on in their pursuit of Liverpool goal-machine Luis Suarez.

It’s a pursuit that seems destined to fail so much so that one has to wonder if Arsene Wenger and his back-room boys are even serious in their approach.

A colleague of mine, Tom, suggested last week that Arsenal’s bid for Suarez is simply a means of proving to supporters that – after announcing last spring that they had a massive transfer kitty and could afford Wayne Rooney’s wages – the club is finally ready to ‘splash the cash,’ when in actuality, that couldn’t be further from the truth.

Why?

Because splashing the cash is bad for business. And when it comes to England, no one runs a better business-based club than Arsenal.

So these bids for Suarez?

All hogwash. Veiled moves designed simply to back up those careless words uttered a few months back that convinced Gunners supporters of big name signings in this summer’s transfer window.

Look, I’m not saying that I necessarily believe such a conspiracy theory but it’s not entirely outside the realm of possibility. Whether you believe such a theory or not, the question you’ve got to ask yourself is this –

Are Arsenal really going to pay Liverpool the fee they desire for Suarez?

If your answer is yes, then I’m interested in hearing why, so feel free to drop a line in the comments.

But keep in mind that prying the Uruguayan from Anfield will likely cost in the region of $77 million (£50m). That means Arsenal will be ponying up $54 million (£35m) more than their previous record transfer fee paid to Zenit Saint Petersburg for Andrey Arshavin in 2009.

To do that for a player with Suarez’ checkered past – especially when Arsenal could bring in Wayne Rooney at a savings of $31-$39 million – seems completely ridiculous, not to mention counter-intuitive to the Gunners financial credos.

Of course, Rooney has been known to be a bit of a headache as well. But you get the point.

Arsenal fans, you have my sympathy.

  1. rickwiese38 - Aug 7, 2013 at 12:10 PM

    The idea that Arsenal’s bid for Suarez is just a ruse to hoodwink fans is preposterous. It’s message board fodder. Arsenal is very serious about this because they need a top class goalscorer and Suarez would fit perfectly into Arsene Wenger’s system. That’s part of the reason they turned their attention away from Gonzalo Higuain, who is an in-the-box poacher as opposed to the versatile and creative maestro that is Suarez. Arsenal does have the money to do this now for a variety of reasons, including sponsorship deals and the paying down of stadium debt. Arsene Wenger will pay what he believes Luis Suarez is worth to the team. Will that match the price at which Liverpool would be willing to let the player go? That remains to be seen. But this is a serious bid. Also, what makes you say that a defender and a physical defensive midfielder are more needed than a world class striker? The fact is that Arsenal had the second best defensive record in the Premier League last year (only Manchester City allowed less goals). Arsenal could certainly use a signing for depth — particularly in light of Vermaelen’s injury — but there is no need for an upgrade. And Arsenal, like Barcelona, prefers versatile players in the defensive midfield to the big physical presence.

    • Mike Prindiville - Aug 7, 2013 at 12:47 PM

      Thx for the comment. As I noted in the article, I don’t necessarily believe the theory but it’s by no means preposterous. Support is there: 1) Arsenal will need to stump up a boat load more money to get Suarez (which they have yet to come close to doing), 2) Arsenal have never spent anywhere close to 50M, and 3) Wenger employs a club of classy individuals and Suarez’ past has shown him to be anything but that.

      Arsenal needs defenders because Vermaelen is injured and Koscielny took a knock last week. I’d say Wenger agrees considering he’s been trying to sign Matthias Ginter from Freiburg and there’s been rumors of interest in Luis Gustavo, who is versatile enough to play the holding role and in defense and in Marouane Fellaini, how would add grit at CDM.

      Don’t think Arsenal needs more grit? Ask Jacky Wilshire how he feels about getting thumped every 10 minutes in the center of the park. Mikel Arteta and Aaron Ramsey don’t exactly provide the protection he needs.

      • rickwiese38 - Aug 7, 2013 at 3:07 PM

        Of course it’s preposterous. In order for there to be anything to it, Liverpool would have had to have been in on it. After all, it was Liverpool — not Arsenal — who made the bids public. Arsene Wenger said not a word about it until long after the fact when, in the face of questions from the growing media circus, he finally confirmed that a bid had been made and stating that he preferred to keep the negotiations private between the clubs. Besides, Liverpool didn’t publicly put that 50m/55m/100m price tag on Suarez until after they revealed Arsenal had bid. So if Arsene Wenger was just wanting to put one over on the fan base, wouldn’t he have been taking an awful chance of Liverpool accepting the bid? After all, even 40 million represents a tidy profit over the 22 million Liverpool paid for him not so long ago. And he does come with baggage, which may be why we don’t know of any other clubs being interested even at 40 million. This is Obama birth certificate sort of stuff.

        And I didn’t say that Arsenal couldn’t use another defender, In fact, I specifically said they could for the reason you also then noted. But depth to cover an injury to a third-choice center back is not a higher priority than a world class striker who can knock you in 30 goals a season or so. And if the rumors are true about Arsenal’s interest in Ginter and Gustavo, it’s more because of their versatility than because they bring steel to the midfield. Sure, both are a bit more tenacious than Arteta, but the Spaniard has other qualities that are very important to Arsenal’s style of play. And I haven’t read much about Arsenal’s supposed interest in Fellaini lately either. Even the English media seems to have pretty much moved on from that one. Fine player. Doesn’t quite fit Arsenal’s style. I’m sure that Wenger would much rather have Gustavo. Whether or not Gustavo is available is another matter. But in any case, those things still are not a bigger priority than a striker — something which Wenger has obviously made his top priority this summer. Giroud has looked great in pre-season and I think he has a fine future with the Gunners, but last season he was inconsistent, had a horrible conversion rate for a striker who works mainly in the box, and missed some big chances. And Arsenal has basically nothing behind him. If Giroud is out, it’s basically a choice between playing Walcott or Podolski out of position or bringing on Sanogo. Suarez can play by himself up front without Giroud, or he can play as a second striker in support of him.

        And finally, Arsenal hasn’t exactly had a squad of choir boys over the Wenger years. Pires and Henry were blatant divers. Vieira was banned for six matches and fined 45,000 pounds for spitting on a West Ham player and then engaging in an altercation with a police officer in the tunnel after the match. He was also fined 20,000 for another incident at Sheffield Wednesday. A year later, Vieira was banned for five matches because of his conduct and after being sent off against Liverpool he was making very Suarez-like comments about how he couldn’t stand it in England anymore and wanted out. Also, Arsene Wenger sometimes has a good influence on troubled players. He helped Tony Adams through his battle with alcoholism. And he stood by Van Persie after the Dutch striker spent two weeks in jail on suspicion of rape. So this is not a club just for the goodietwoshoes types.

      • brewcitybummer - Aug 7, 2013 at 6:51 PM

        I feel like the real test of Arsenal’s alleged financial might is to be able to sign a player like Suarez and not have that interrupt their pursuit of depth players.

  2. worldview14 - Aug 7, 2013 at 12:20 PM

    @ Mike Prindiville

    I think with 3 Barclays Championship 4 FA cups and widely consider one of the best manager around. I believe he knows better what to do than your armchair quarterbacking.
    Arsenal had the second or third best defense in the league last year and he’s grooming some young talent as well for those position mentioned above it’s his prerogative on what part of the team needs improvement. He’s not perfect and make mistakes but you in no position to question him since you know even less about football.

    YOUR LACK OF Knowledge is unbelievable for the job you have. Arsenal is in the process of finally run down the bellow market value long term commercial contracts they had when trying to build their stadium. As these old contracts expires and they new ones start coming in you should expect them to now be able to spend a lot more in transfers and salaries. If you were very good at what you do you would of been aware of that and maybe offer that view point as well rather than just repeat from you read or here from the UK media.

  3. NowWaitJustAMinute - Aug 7, 2013 at 12:59 PM

    Disclosure: I’m LFC supporter.

    Comments about trophies and what each side have won and whether Wenger is kooky and contracts for a brand new stadium that was supposed increase revenue etc are all completely irrelevant to each side’s position. It is simple: why sell a player (and arguably a top 3 talent in the EPL) to a direct rival? Conversely, buying a top 3 player hurts one side and massively helps another. An argument about Arsenal’s ability to purchase and pay Suarez is kinda stupid. I’m sure a club of its size can, it’s just a matter of whether it wants to.

    LFC’s stance is dead on. With Suarez, LFC hope to compete with Spurs and Arsenal for 4th (anybody who suggests top 3 is crackable is deluded). Without Suarez, what, top 6 maybe? A Europa League berth? For Arsenal, getting Suarez solidifies their hold on 4th and hopefully starts their battle to move up the table that they’ve been sliding down for the last several years. Everything else is extraneous.

    Dortmund and Liverpool are both doing the right thing. The player shouldn’t have all the power to force moves, particularly to direct rivals. What release clause says or doesn’t say is another topic.

    • Mike Prindiville - Aug 7, 2013 at 1:10 PM

      Smart comment. Don’t see Liverpool selling to a direct rival unless the money is border-line ridiculous.

      • NowWaitJustAMinute - Aug 7, 2013 at 2:44 PM

        Agreed, particularly at the clubs’ respective standing in the table. Inter-league selling is borderline ridiculous AND stupid. Arsenal may need to bid Cavani money to get Suarez.

        A foreign bid at the Arsenal amount prolly gets immediately accepted.

  4. tbutler704 - Aug 7, 2013 at 1:38 PM

    Hope he doesn’t bite Arsene Wenger.

  5. konmtu - Aug 7, 2013 at 1:48 PM

    @worldview14 3PL Championships and 4 FA Cups the last of which was 8 years ago doesn’t make Arsene Wenger a genius. It means the game has likely passed him by.

    • rickwiese38 - Aug 7, 2013 at 3:30 PM

      You’re right that three league titles and 4 FA Cups don’t make Wenger a genius. Even the unbeaten season doesn’t make him a genius. But being able to keep the club in the Champions League for 17 straight seasons — even during the budget constraints resulting from the debt incurred to finance Emirates Stadium (which was being built as Arsenal won that most recent trophy and opened in 2006 — coincidence?) — kind of makes him a genius. People are always yelling that Wenger must go (not the least a segment of Arsenal fans), but nobody ever has a realistic idea of who might be a sure-fire upgrade to replace him. I’m anxious to see what he can accomplish over the next several years now that the budget restraints have been lifted.

  6. konmtu - Aug 7, 2013 at 5:00 PM

    EIGHT years. I know it’s not exactly mediocrity, but isn’t the goal in cometitions to win something?

  7. raiderdan69 - Aug 7, 2013 at 9:00 PM

    I often find myself finding american journalists to be quite uninformed when it comes to football but today I will hold my hands up and say mike this was a well written and 100% accurate analysis of the suarez to arsenal situation. Kudos!

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