We are well and truly in the transfer silly season now, and with the start of the 2013/14 season only 3 weeks away, this transfer sagas of the summer are still in full bloom. One saga that has probably dragged on the longest is the proposed move of Liverpool striker Luis Suarez. As the Uruguayan’s teeth sunk into Branislav Ivanovic’s arm, the stage was set for a Suarez move, and sure enough, no sooner had the season concluded than the Anfield superstar was telling every Tom, Dick and Harry that he’d had enough of life in Liverpool.
It was thought originally that Suarez most likely set to arrive at Real Madrid, but to be honest; it’s all been quiet on the Bernabeu front. The Spanish giants have already purchased Isco and Illarramendi at substantial cost, and if they were to spend again this summer it would most likely be in order to secure the services of Tottenham forward Gareth Bale rather than the controversial Uruguayan.
However, it’s clear that Suarez is still hankering after a move, which begs the next question: where will he end up? Arsenal are the club rumoured to be most interested in securing his services, and have already made a fairly astronomical bid in the shape of £40m (+£1); a bid that was rejected out of hand by Liverpool chairman John Henry. Whether Arsenal will be back with another offer remains to be seen, but there’s a number of curious things about this proposed transfer that don’t quite add up.
Firstly, given Arsene Wenger’s penchant for finding a deal and saving his club as much money as possible, why has the Frenchman sanctioned such a huge first bid for a player who wants out of his current club? The first bid is never accepted, and by starting at £40m, Arsenal are only ensuring that they will pay serious top dollar if Suarez is ever going to become their player. This transfer strategy certainly flies in the face of everything that Wenger has stood for in his long and illustrious Arsenal career so far, and is certainly eyebrow raising. We all know that Arsenal now have money to spend, but it still seems odd that the wily old Economics graduate would want to spend that money in this way.
There’s also the question of Suarez’s temperament. The striker is still currently serving his ban for biting Ivanovic, meaning that he won’t be available for the first 2 months of the season. When you’re spending £40m, you would surely like your asset to be available for as much of the season as possible, and Suarez will not be. Moving a player that will be unavailable for a largish chunk of the season is again at odds with Wenger’s management style.
Then there’s the actual football. There’s no doubt that Luis Suarez is a wildly talented player. He has carried Liverpool a number of times, and on his talent alone, Suarez certainly deserves to be playing in the Champions League, and for that reason I wouldn’t begrudge him moving to a bigger club so that he could challenge for major honours. However, the fact remains that Suarez is not a ‘Wenger style’ player. Wenger has spent his 17 years at Arsenal cultivating a very particular style of play that involves a lot of ‘passing and moving’, a lot of patience and a lot of teamwork. Luis Suarez doesn’t play like that. The Uruguayan charges around the pitch like a bull in a china shop, and often shoots on sight; whether he has manoeuvred himself into the correct position to do so or not. This often means that Suarez wastes chances, and whilst he can perhaps afford to do that at Anfield; Arsenal’s style of play means that they need a clinical player to finish off the few chances that they cultivate – that player is unlikely to be Suarez.
So why are Arsenal after Suarez? I guess the question could actually be rephrased as, “Are Arsenal actually after Suarez?”. Arsenal have not looked like winning a trophy for a long time: their last competition victory coming in 2005. Wenger’s stubbornness and unwillingness to invest heavily in the squad, as well as the readiness with which he has sold world-class players like Cesc Fabregas and Robin Van Persie has oft been criticised by a cross section of fans. “Wenger is just an economist…Wenger has no ambition” have been just two of the barbs aimed at the Frenchman, and a widely held opinion has been that Wenger and the Arsenal board are more interested in making money than ensuring the success of the Gunners. So how to dissolve this reputation? By bidding big for players that are unlikely to end up at your club. Brendan Rodgers has been very vocal in saying that Suarez is not for sale, and therefore it seems unlikely that Liverpool will sell the Uruguayan this summer. However, Arsenal’s bid shows their fans that they are ambitious; or at least creates the illusion of ambition. When the bid doesn’t come off and Arsenal finish 4th again; Wenger will at least be able to say, “We tried to sign Suarez”. In my opinion, it’s a bid designed in order to keep the fans happy, and it may prove to be an effective way of doing just that.