Friday, 26 July 2013

Suarez, Arsenal, Pound coins and Puff: The transfer saga of the summer so far

We should have seen this coming. Ever since the notorious ‘bite-gate’ incident saw Suarez slapped with a ten-game ban by the FA, many Liverpool supporters have been worrying that they would never see the sensational talent that is Luis Suarez donning that famous Red shirt at Anfield again. 

At the same time, the player himself must have been contemplating his future- the lengthy ban certainly gave him time to do so. With Liverpool languishing in seventh place and a long way from qualifying for the prestigious Champions League after a difficult season of over reliance on Suarez, the Uruguayan surely was weighing up his options, considering whether more medals and money could be available to him elsewhere.  

The summer transfer window began brightly for Liverpool, with a host of new signings, including Iago Aspas, Luis Alberto, Simon Mignolet and Kolo Toure, as well as the £15 million sale of Andy Carroll, a player clearly viewed as surplus to requirements by boss Brendan Rodgers, with a significant number of supporters agreeing with the Northern Irish manager. However, now it appears as if Kopites are going to suffer through a long, drawn out and tiresome transfer saga surrounding the future of star striker Luis Suarez throughout the summer. 

It all began when Suarez started talking to Uruguayan media outlets prior to playing in the Confederations Cup for his homeland. Much gets lost or twisted in translation whenever the British press report on a player talking to foreign radio stations, but the overall message remained abundantly clear: Suarez wanted out.

Suarez doesn't look happy on tour with the Reds
The excuses he proffered were a pitiful and embarrassingly poor veil designed to disguise the real reasons why he wanted to depart. After citing his obligatory ‘love’ for Liverpool, he claimed he couldn't remain in England because of the treatment he has received from the FA and the English media. This seemed scarcely plausible from the off, but at least it was consistent with interest in him from Spanish giants Real Madrid.

Reds supporters and officials are understandably incensed, therefore, now that Suarez is evidently trying to push through a move to Arsenal, which would obviously mean staying in the country he earlier ridiculously claimed he had to leave. 

The Gunners are also a source of frustration for the club. First, they offered a measly £35 million, which is clearly nowhere near Suarez’s true value considering that that was the fee Liverpool paid to purchase Andy Carroll from Newcastle. Then, their scandalous bare-faced cheek was exposed by returning with a second offer of £40,000,001. 

It seems unlikely that Arsenal were simply returning the pound coin Jamie Carragher threw back into the Highbury crowd in January 2002! 

£1 wasn't enough to entice LFC to sell
It was, rather, a cunning plot to trigger a clause in Luis Suarez’s contract that the London club believed made it compulsory for Liverpool to sell. The club maintain that the clause merely requires them to inform Suarez of the bid, while the player and his agent interpret it differently, insisting that he has the right to talk with, and ultimately complete a transfer to, Arsenal. The dispute is so severe that it appears likely to be taken before a Premier League arbitration hearing.

John Henry made his views on Arsenal’s derisory and insulting bid apparent on Twitter, tweeting, “What do you think they’re smoking over there at Emirates?”, the implication being that illegal drugs have impaired the Gunners’ officials’ judgement regarding either the true value of Luis Suarez or their ability to persuade the Reds to sell him at all. 

His account may have been hacked, but I really hope it was a genuine tweet because it not only shows the owners’ determination to keep their prized asset, but also adds a much needed comedic element to what has been a serious and stressful transfer saga that could determine the performances of two of the Premier League’s best clubs next season.

Big questions remain unanswered regarding the Suarez fiasco, however. Should the club take the money and sell up? If so, who should they sell to and for how much? On the other hand, is Suarez too good a player to lose? And what does it say about the club if they are willing to let their best player leave? 

One thing is for certain- we shouldn't sell to Arsenal at any price. Not only have they dealt with Liverpool shamefully in their approach for Suarez, they are also one of our rivals for a top four finish next season. It simply makes no sense whatsoever to sell our best player to a team we are going to be in direct competition with next season. 

The case for selling Suarez to a foreign club, such as Real Madrid or PSG, is more persuasive. For all his ability, Suarez has been a liability at Liverpool, missing nearly twenty matches through suspension during his time at Anfield despite never being sent off. If the player wants to leave and a foreign club comes in with an offer of around £50-60 million early enough for us to take the cash and buy two or three players to replace Suarez then the club should accept the offer.

Perhaps the crucial question is the one of timing. At the moment, a long and protracted transfer saga seems the most likely scenario. A quick resolution that satisfies all parties is preferable, though. Liverpool must privately make a decision regarding the future of Suarez as soon as possible and then act decisively to either resolutely oppose his sale or quickly and quietly mention to Madrid that they would be willing to do business at the right price. 

Unfortunately, I envisage Madrid coming in with a monster bid in the final week of the transfer window that the club believes is simply too good to turn down, leaving Liverpool in the same situation as they were at the end of last summer’s transfer window; a striker short and desperately, but ultimately fruitlessly, scrambling around looking to sign any half decent forward at an inflated fee.

At the end of the day, I would prefer to have the 30 goals a season striker that Luis Suarez is in the squad next season then a pile of pound coins, no matter how high Mr Wenger stacks it. If Carlo Ancelotti or Laurent Blanc were to swiftly offer enough euros, however, Suarez would get his wish to leave England and Liverpool would move on.

After all, no player is bigger than Liverpool FC.  

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