Failed bid for Suarez sure to add additional spice to intriguing Emirates clash
Liverpool striker in hot form as Brendan Rodgers’ side take on the league leaders
Liverpool’s Luis Suarez celebrates after scoring his second goal against West Bromwich Albion at Anfield last week. Photo: Phil Noble/Reuters
Preparing for a pre-season friendly before 95,000 fans at the MCG, the Liverpool manager was shown confirmation of Arsenal’s latest offer for Luis Suarez by the managing director Ian Ayre: £40,000,001. “We looked at it and laughed,” recalls Rodgers.
Liverpool can afford to smile now. Third in the table, two points behind the league leaders and with their manager predicting a sustained challenge for Champions League qualification for the first time since 2009-10, Liverpool’s hardline stance on Suarez is gaining merit by the week.
Last weekend the Uruguay international scored a hat-trick, taking his tally to six goals in four games, as Rodgers’ team turned in their finest overall display of the campaign so far against West Bromwich Albion.
Today Liverpool can underline those Champions League credentials, and suggest perhaps even more, at Arsenal’s expense at the Emirates Stadium.
That cheeky pound can take some of the credit if they do. A brief moment of brevity in Australia apart, Liverpool were deeply offended by the bid that Arsenal believed would trigger a £40 million-plus release clause in Suarez’s contract.
Almost four months on it still seems extraordinary that a club of Arsenal’s stature, a player of Suarez’s ambition and an agent of Pere Guardiola’s experience could misinterpret such a key clause. As Liverpool’s principal owner John W Henry tweeted at the time: “What do you think they’re smoking over there at Emirates?”
Henry and Rodgers had resolved not to strengthen a Premier League team’s top four prospects at Liverpool’s expense by selling Suarez, though Arsenal continued dialogue in the two weeks between their initial £35 million offer and the £40,000,001 nail in that transfer coffin.
Bitter recrimination followed, not only between the two clubs but Suarez and Liverpool, with the striker accusing his manager of breaking a promise over his future and being ordered to train away from the first-team squad until his attitude improved.
It is clear, despite Rodgers’ insistence on Thursday that the episode will not add spice to today’s fixture, that some resentment lingers.
“I think Arsenal were ill-advised on that bid, to say the least,” said Rodgers. Arsenal as a football club always had great integrity historically and so, when that bid came through, I can only say it was one of the worst pieces of information they ever received, from whoever it was.
“It was never going to succeed but of course you do have to chance your arm. At the time we certainly saw the bid as derogatory. The two clubs have historically had class, it has been the hallmark of both clubs, but whether it was £40 million and one pound or £40 million and one pence our fight was always to keep him here because he is a top player.”