December 7 2013 Latest news:
By James Cunliffe
Friday, November 1, 2013
Arsene Wenger today admitted that Arsenal’s audacious £40million plus £1 summer bid for Luis Suarez lacked subtlety but denied it was meant to be “provocative”.
The failed attempt to land the striker drew much criticism after the north Londoners acted on information that suggested any offer over £40million would trigger a release clause in his contract.
That was combined with the player’s posturing and manoeuvring to force an exit from Anfield, first to Real Madrid and then the Gunners.
But the Reds claimed no such passage in the wording of the deal existed and refused to sell their prized asset.
Manager Brendan Rogers maintained that, should they ever be inclined to part ways, that a price tag nearer to the eventual world record £86.5million Real Madrid spent on Gareth Bale would be in order.
Liverpool owner John W Henry was less considered, inflaming the situation with a mocking riposte to Arsenal’s offer, writing on his Twitter account: “What do you think they’re smoking over there at Emirates?”
Ahead of tomorrow evening’s clash with Liverpool and the visit of Suareaz to the Emirates Stadium, Wenger conceded the unusual bid was probably not one of his club’s wisest bits of business.
“It was not the most subtle thing we have done but it was not meant to be provocative at all,” the Frenchman said. “It could be interpreted like that but it was not our purpose.
“I don’t want to dwell more on that situation. As you know it’s one of the transfers that didn’t work but every year, in every club you have two or three, but there’s no need to speak about it afterwards.
“He’s a professional and he plays there, he’s paid by Liverpool, he plays for Liverpool and that’s it.”
Wenger side-stepped a question on whether he felt badly advised over the bid, instead referencing last week’s revelation-filled autobiography from former Manchester United boss.
He joked: “The details of all that will maybe come out one day. Maybe not in my book, in somebody else’s book.”
But despite the exchanges between the two clubs and that tweet from the Reds’ American chief, Wenger insists relations were and still are cordial.
“We kept in touch over that period,” he said of the association between Arsenal and Liverpool. “You [the media] know the whole true story better than I do because you must know both sides and I know only one side.
“We always had fair relations with Liverpool through the whole period because we kept in touch.”
At the time the bid was made, Wenger’s struggles to add a marquee signing to his squad – or any new recruits at all, other than untested French teenager Yaya Sanogo on a free – exacerbated concern among Gunners fans. Successive summers saw the club sell their best players, in Cesc Fabregas and Robin van Persie, while failing to draft in adequate replacements.
Added to that, Arsenal had targeted Real Madrid hitman Gonzalo Higuain only to see him snatched away from under their noses by Napoli while they dallied over the price. while links to Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney only fully petered out once the season got underway.
In the end, Wenger left it until transfer deadline day to sign Mesut Ozil from Madrid for £1 less than they offered for Suarez.
The German has helped reinvigorate Arsenal and seen them whispered, after eight years without a trophy, as potential kings of England once more.
Unsurprisingly in that respect, asked if he had any regrets over the failure to land Suarez - especially as he’s fired six goals in five appearances since his return from a 10-match ban for biting Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic last term - Wenger said: “Not at all.
“Life is about opportunities that you miss, some that you take and you can only make life with your own qualities and we have a squad that is good enough to beat Liverpool and that’s what we want to show and focus on.”
In Olivier Giroud, Arsenal have their own in-form hitman, who has struck eight times this term but the lack of a plan B, should he get injured, would suggest Wenger still needs to strengthen in the January transfer window if they are to maintained a title tilt.
“I don’t know yet, honestly,” said a less convinced 64-year-old. “I want to see where we stand at the end of December.”
Even the Frenchman appeared unconvinced in his answer as to possible back-up solutions, saying: “We have [Nicklas] Bendtner, [Ji-Sung] Park and plenty of solutions. Even Ozil can play up front.”
It will all add to the glare of the spotlight that will be shone upon Suarez tomorrow, though his performances for Liverpool have rightly cast him as the star turn, ably assisted in equal measure by strike partner Daniel Sturridge.
The Englishman held the fort while the former Ajax ace served his ban and, to date, has fired 21 goals in 24 appearances, making the pair one of the Premier League’s most potent attacking forces.
Wenger said: “We want to win the game and the most important part is how we play, not how Suarez plays.”
But the Frenchman will be without the services of Mathieu Flamini, who was re-signed on a free, and alongside Ozil has been equally as key to Arsenal’s surge to the summit of the Premier League.
In the absence of the holding midfielder Wenger conceded that his defence could be vulnerable, even though Mikel Arteta returns from a one-match red card suspension.
He said: “It [defence] is not our biggest strength. Why? Because we want players who can go forward and one of the targets tomorrow is to get all these players, who are offensive players, to defend well.”