When Arsenal bidded for Luis Suárez people were in disbelief; the bid was so unlike Wenger. I, for one, believed the ‘bid’ was a hoax. As Arsenal failed to deny the story, and Liverpool confirmed the bid, it seemed like Wenger had finally said “twist”. It remains to be seen whether Wenger hits the magic 21, or goes bust… Some reports suggest that Arsenal have increased their offer to around £46million; a huge statement of intent. Now Suárez moving to Arsenal looks more likely by the day, but why has Wenger suddenly changed and, would Suárez work for Arsenal?
Love him or hate him: the human marmite
Suárez is undoubtedly a very skilful player but; can he be a great player when he constantly brings the game into disrepute, with blatant attempts at cheating and poor shows of sportsmanship? The Uruguayan always divides opinion, and my opinion on him is quite clear: https://mattysfootythoughts.wordpress.com/2013/04/21/4-reasons-why-bale-has-to-win-the-player-of-the-year-award-ahead-of-disgraceful-suarez/
A recent poll, conducted by http://www.telegraph.co.uk, asked fans whether Arsenal should sign Suárez or not. Voters voted 46.93% in favour of the move, and 53.07% against. This reflects just how divisive Suárez is. Some may suggest that Liverpool fans would vote against the move, but some Liverpool fans dislike Suárez, and thus consider a £40,000,001 move as a great thing. The Arsenal fans will love Suárez if he scores goals, but if he brings controversy to the Emirates, as he did at Anfield, I am sure Suárez will be hated by gooners.
Where have all the targets gone? Gone to other clubs everyone
Wenger bidding a large amount for Suárez shows shear desperation to sign a big player. Most of the main business seems to have been done early in this window, with teams wanting to spend their television money quickly. All of Wenger’s supposed previous targets have gone to different clubs. Those cheaper, far more manageable players have turned down Arsenal. Stevan Jovetić and Gonzalo Higuían would have cost just £10million more than Wenger’s Suárez bid. (£22,880,000+£32,560,000=£55,400,000. <Figures according to http://www.transfermarkt.co.uk . Wenger's new Suárez bid is roughly £46million.) I am sure Arsenal fans would have preferred a strike-force comprising of that pair, over a risky Uruguayan.
Suárez is the only high-profile, want away striker left, other than Wayne Rooney. With José Mourinho endlessly praising Rooney’s talents, the Englishman would clearly choose the blues over the reds in order to play with better players and to win more. Perhaps though, Mourinho is just winding David Moyes up, playing a classic mind game…
Bernard has been touted as another potential attacking signing from Wenger but he is full of youthful inexperience and plays in a poor league. Additionally, players Arsenal are linked with generally don’t sign for them. (Júlio César is one great example, a man who seemed certain in the media’s eyes to sign for The Gunners.) What would an Arsenal fan prefer, Bernard and Suárez or Jovetić and Higuían? The latter partnership, on paper, seems preferable. Alas, it is now impossible for Arsenal this season, at least.
The Bernard move looks very unlikely now, with the player’s agent Adrian Spadoto revealing, in an interview with Portuguese sports paper MaisFutebol, “Bernard will be signing for Porto or Shakhtar. There’s a huge possibility,” He added: “I think Bernard is signing for Porto, let’s wait until Monday or Tuesday for concrete news.” This confirms the theory that players Arsenal are linked with, before they make a bid, do not sign for The Gunners.
Arsenal fans who are angry about losing out on the above targets need to relax. Wenger never confirmed the supposed targets were actual targets. There are still plenty of quality players available, who would definitely improve the Arsenal squad. Most of these players haven’t really been linked with Arsenal, immediately meaning that Arsenal are more likely to sign them. Here are a few examples: striker Christian Benteke, creator Yohan Cabaye, centre-back Nicolas N’Koulou and creator/winger Miralem Pjanić. All would be quality additions.
With Wenger missing out on his targets-to more attractive clubs who are willing to pay more money-the following question requires an answer: Is Wenger panicking? As ludicrous as this may sound for the often calm Frenchman, the idea of panic in Arsène’s head should be considered seriously. Wenger bidding for Suárez is so uncharacteristic of him in a number of ways.
The first unusual thing with this bid is the large fee. Wenger tends to spend money on cheap, relatively unknown youngsters. He then transforms these youth into Premier League standard, selling them on for more money. Suárez will never be sold on for more money than the £40million bid, unless inflation goes crazy. Let us assume that Suárez moves to Arsenal, and stays there for 3 years. Ignoring the possibility that he may flop for a bit, Torres-style, his value will probably decrease anyway as he will have grown older and not necessarily wiser. He will be 29 by then, almost definitely past his peak. Who knows, was last season Suárez’s peak? It may also be hard to sell Suárez at all if he continues to behave abysmally. Wenger loves making a profit, so why is he risking making a loss on Suárez?
Secondly, Suárez does not fit into Arsenal’s current system. Suárez is at his best playing just behind a front man. If the move happens Olivier Giroud may occupy a target man role and Suárez could play off him. Yet, what would happen to Arsenal player of the season Santi Cazorla? Suárez and Cazorla would not be able to occupy 2 attacking-midfield roles, as the midfield would be left horribly open. Wenger may have to move to 3 at the back, employing a 3-4-2-1 when attacking and a 5-2-2-1 when defending. The lack of width would be worrying though. Suárez may play upfront on his own and this may work. Furthermore, Suárez thrives off being the talisman. Wenger does not like being over-reliant on one player, and would not usually treat a player as the main man. The past teaches us that Wenger tends not to change his system for just one player. Van Persie did well because the original system suited him; Wenger did not tweak it for him. Wenger would need to tweak the system for Suárez if he played up-front on his own.
Thirdly, since when has Wenger tried to sign a player who could ruin everything he has built at Arsenal? Suárez destroy the crumbling foundations, bringing the whole house down. Wenger likes to stay well away from hard to manage players, yet he has bid for Suárez. Suárez could destroy the team harmony that Wenger prides himself on creating at Arsenal. Suárez could tarnish the good reputation that Arsenal football club has as an ethical team. (Look at what happened at Liverpool after the Evra racism scandal) Suárez could ruin everything Wenger has put his heart and soul into. This isn’t just a job to Wenger, it’s his life, and he is risking it all on Suárez.
The 3 points above certainly look like panic stations to me. The 2011/2012 summer window could also look like panic from Wenger, as Wenger struggled to replace Gaël Clichy and Samir Nasri. Signing Yossi Benayoun on loan was odd, but Benayoun did a reasonable job in filling in for Nasri, on a short-term basis, when required. André Santos was less convincing, eventually flopping like Gervinho and Park Chu-Young, but Wenger did not change his transfer policy that window. Indeed, Mikel Arteta, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Carl Jenkinson and Per Mertesacker proved to be good signings. Joel Campbell looks like a promising talent. Wenger did not seem ruffled, other than on a crazy deadline day. He did not bid massive money, on one massively flawed player.
Most Arsenal fans and the press are to be blamed for Wenger panicking
A bold sub-title certainly, but it is true. More and more Arsenal fans have moaned at not winning a trophy. More and more Arsenal fans have grown unhappy with Wenger over the 8 trophy-less years. Their anger has mainly been addressed to Wenger. Only a select few have targeted the board members, such as Ivan Gazidis.
Imagine the pressure that Wenger is under. He always should be a club legend, as he is the most successful Arsenal manager ever. He revolutionalised modern English football. Yet, Arsenal fans are accusing him of not “evolving with the times”. They are demanding that Wenger “steps aside”. Arsenal fans argue that Wenger is “stubborn” in the transfer market, that he is not effective at “haggling”. (I will address those points later) As mentioned before, Arsenal is Wenger’s life. Wenger does not want to lose his job there, he wants to succeed.
Hearing the fans pressurising himself hurts Wenger. This has clearly worn him down, with Wenger perhaps questioning himself-a dangerous thing to do when you are in charge of a team. Now that Wenger actually has big money to spend, after the club publically announced larger funds than usual, he probably doesn’t know what to do with it. Wenger is used to operating on a small budget without pressure, selling his stars and then re-investing in future profit-makers. Now that the stadium debt has almost been paid off and the new television money has come in Wenger knows that he needs to invest in his squad. (More on television money here: https://mattysfootythoughts.wordpress.com/2013/04/09/staying-up-is-more-crucial-then-ever/)
Perhaps Wenger missed out on his previous targets because he was naïve. Suárez is the only big target who would choose Arsenal, as Arsenal are the only club to openly bid for him. In comparison, Higuían and Jovetić went to arguably more competitive clubs than Arsenal. Napoli look like they will finish in the top 2 of Serie A with ease. Manchester City look much better than Arsenal.
The fans constantly demand big signings. Wenger desperately wants to win all of the fans back on side. Suárez is his offer of appeasement. The pressure on Wenger has caused him to change his entire footballing ideals, his belief on how Arsenal should be run. This is a man who is desperate. The way that he leaked the new contract negotiations between him and Arsenal shows that he feels insecure.
Bidding £40,000,001 is a sign of madness. Why would £1 make a difference? Wenger really, really, really wants this move to happen. Believing that £1 would make a difference could be interpreted as lunacy from Wenger. It prompted Liverpool owner John Henry to tweet: “What do you think they’re smoking over there at Emirates?” (I wish I could have asked Henry, face to face, what he was on when he decided to supply the money for Carroll and Henderson!) Suárez is Wenger’s long awaited, suitable replacement for Robin van Persie.
However, the £1 over £40million is actually a clever transfer technique. In Suárez’s contract, there is a clause stating that any bid over £40million triggers contract talks with the bidding club. This means that Arsenal can get a contractual deal in place, further unsettling Liverpool’s player. This will disturb team harmony, probably forcing Liverpool to sell.
Maybe Wenger is trying to change too quick with his big bid, panicking that fan protests and an eventual sacking will follow this season, if it is barren. Who can blame him though, with the constant fan and media pressure? Wenger, more than any Arsenal fan, wants to win. Suárez is his last gamble. It’s do or die, the last roll of the dice, and any other desperation/gamble cliché.
The Wenger panic has caused him to make a bad move
Ordinarily, I believe that Liverpool would have accepted this bid of just over £40million. Liverpool owner Henry, a follower of Billy Beane’s Moneyball method*, would usually understand that no player is irreplaceable and that if a team pays over the market value the offer should be accepted. However, there is no clear replacement for Suárez on the market, other than perhaps Christian Benteke- who might be a ‘one season wonder’. The lack of genuine replacements for Suárez led Liverpool to state that “The situation with Luis Suarez remains the same. It’s never been our intention to sell Luis. We have received two separate offers from Arsenal and have rejected both” through Managing Director Ian Ayre.
Suárez would admittedly bring positives to Arsenal if he were to move. His 30 goals in 44 games and 13 assists for Liverpool, are mightily impressive statistics. He would score goals for Arsenal that is for certain. However, if Wenger had managed to get Higuían and Jovetić they, as a partnership, would probably have scored more goals than Suárez would in an Arsenal shirt. The pair would also have been a more reliable option. If Suárez gets injured or has a bad run of form, Arsenal’s season will be scuppered.
Liverpool must be fed up with having to defend, what is often the impossible to defend, from Suárez. Any club would struggle to justify his list of numerous shocking incidents, all involving awful sportsmanship, most involving blatant cheating. Arsenal would grow sick of Suárez. It says a lot that some Liverpool fans hate their own player, one who wears the symbolic number 7.
Amazingly, despite Liverpool constantly supporting Suárez, Suárez declared that he would like to talk to Arsenal. This was after he stated on 31st May that he would only leave Liverpool for foreign waters. “I don’t feel comfortable here[,England,] anymore”. He got comfortable again very quickly, didn’t he? Suárez cited Paparazzi disturbance as a reason to leave England, yet Liverpool fan @togstein tweeted: “@TonyBarretTimes @togstein: My mate lives on the same estate as Suarez , I visit often , neither of us have ever noticed paparazzi”. That is some way to re-pay the club which has taken a lot of flak for defending your disgraceful actions.
The negatives Suárez brings definitely outweigh the gains. The word which keeps appearing, controversy, is his main issue. Furthermore, the large fee that Suárez will cost, could, and probably should, be used to buy multiple quality players. He also tends to have games where he can’t score. He rarely has an average game; it is either brilliant or rubbish.
Suárez will probably move to Arsenal
Wenger will probably get Suárez, Liverpool will have huge wealth and buy Benteke, and Arsenal fans will be optimistic for the season ahead as Wenger buys someone like Miralem Pjanić. The rumoured increased bid of around £46million should be enough to convince Liverpool to sell.
The really frustrating thing for Arsenal fans is that if Arsenal had openly shown this ambition and commitment to sign players last year, Robin van Persie would have signed a new deal at Arsenal. The Emirates debt at Arsenal has restricted Wenger’s spending. However, Arsenal fans still believe that Wenger has more money to spend, than what he usually spends, in transfer windows. The fans should thus demand transparency from their board. If they are so bothered they should demand to see how much money Wenger has at his disposal, each window.
Wenger, though, is not a bad operator in windows. He is usually very cunning in the transfer market, trying his utmost to get the best value for the club. This window, he seems to have changed his strategy in order to please fans and immediately win a trophy. This could be interpreted as a mistake. Wenger reportedly bidding £46million for Suárez, after his £5,999,999 cheaper bid was apparently rejected, shows that he is not stubborn. When Wenger really wants a player, he will buy him.
The only way that we mere observers of football, who have no inside links to clubs, find out about transfers is through the media. Isn’t it odd that when Alex Ferguson was in charge at Manchester United, most deals were kept secret, until the player was travelling to Manchester for a medical? The media always reports Arsenal’s transfer dealings. They seem to always claim that Wenger bidded just £3million short of the required fee which would have seen the mentioned player leave. Quality newspapers rarely do this, but red-tops do. The red-tops want to sell, so need to entertain. Rival fans will enjoy reading about how Wenger missed out on a player as he did not wish to up his offer. How do we know that the media don’t make this up? Wenger has never been quoted, as far as I can see, as declaring an interest in any player this window-unless a bid has been made.
Numerous Arsenal fans believe that Wenger has £100million to spend. The media again is to blame. No Arsenal figure has said this, and I believe that some members of the media are doing this to frustrate Arsenal fans and undermine Arsenal. Gazidis once said that Wenger had a “substantial” transfer budget. However, Gazidis also said, in the same interview, “[the resources] are not there to compete with the Manchester Citys of this world and, frankly, if they were, Manchester City would just increase their bids again. You’re just never going to be able to compete with limitless amounts of money but we’ve got a substantial amount of money that we can invest.” He made the point that if Arsenal were to buy a big, world-class player; most of the budget would be used up. Arsenal are being held back spending wise: “Our approach is partly driven by vision; it’s partly driven by necessary strategy.” Stan Kroenke is the man who is restricting Arsenal’s spending. He is the one who has the power to inject money, City-style, into the Arsenal squad. He is a businessman who wants to make profits.(Also, Republican Kroenke is distracted by his main love; American football. He is the owner of the St Louis Rams, like the Glazers own the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Kroenke also owns the Denver Nuggets of the NBA, Colorado Rapids of Major League Soccer, Colorado Avalanche of the NHL, Colorado Mammoth of the National Lacrosse League.)
Some Arsenal fans have realised that members of the board need to be targeted. Large praise should be awarded to them. The Black Scarf Movement, a relatively large force against the board, claim “We are NOT a ‘Wenger Out’ group and we’ve never called for protests inside the ground; we’re about getting behind the team at every Arsenal match.” This is intelligent as any fan who protests inside the ground disrupts team spirit, impacting on results. They are angry at the way their club is being run, saying “what we won’t accept is a club that takes its supporters for granted”. They disagree with the high costs at the Emirates, which does not correspond with transfer spend. Here is their site: http://www.blackscarfafc.co.uk . The thing is, more Arsenal fans need to join groups like this to make any difference. The club has such a large fanbase that groups such as the Black Scarf Movement are virtually ineffective at impacting Kroenke’s methods. They need more members to make a difference.
If one looks back at Arsenal’s transfer windows, the best years were when Damien Comolli was Chief European scout. Comolli found young talent for Wenger to sign, and when he left in 2004, Arsenal started to sign less convincing players. Wenger does not have his wisdom to fall back on. The “wisdom of crowds”, so often talked about in Soccernomics, is a key feature in transfer deals.
Wenger has made bad signings. Mistakes such as Andrei Arshavin are more forgivable. Arshavin was in high demand, had one amazing season in an Arsenal shirt, and then rapidly declined. No one expected his from to suddenly dip. Wenger did go against the golden rule of not signing a player after a good international tournament though.
Mistakes such as Sébastien Squillaci are much less forgivable. Squillaci was a panic buy from Wenger, just like the Suárez bid seems. The French flop was on ridiculously high wages and played just 23 times for Arsenal in 3 years. One must wonder why Wenger decided to buy Squillaci for around £4million. Maybe Wenger thought that he could make a profit on him.
If Wenger had stuck to his usual transfer policy, Arsenal could be looking at a side containing a few new players. By going all-in on just Suárez, Wenger is putting Arsenal’s chances of success on an unstable man. (Biting people isn’t stable) If that isn’t a gamble, then what is? Wenger has changed his transfer policy after his side’s quality keeps diminishing and his trophy cabinet grows dustier. Asking someone to change, like Arsenal fans have, often ends badly, especially when that person tries to change things so quickly.
Wenger stated:”What we want is not a name but a good player. The name is less important. What is more important is the quality of the player. At the moment I must tell you we are not close to signing anybody. Of course we want to do as many top players as we can, but we also have to focus on the players we have and develop them.” I think Wenger does want a name. Usually he would focus on development, but bidding for Suárez is for the fans. I feel like Wenger is trying to manage expectations, as he is worried that a witch hunt will commence if Suárez becomes another target to get away.
It might work out for Suárez if he moves to Arsenal. Maybe Arsenal will win the FA cup, or finish 3rd. Hopefully Wenger would get some credit for gambling on Suárez, but I somehow feel Suárez would take all the plaudits. Arsenal fans need to understand, and to their credit some do, that everything works in cycles. I have made this point a lot recently, but it so true. Every good things comes to an end, as painful as that may sound. Look at Barcelona, a team no longer considered as a completely dominant European force. Arsenal fans have the money to stop the decline, but need to ask Kroenke to supply it, not Wenger.
If the season is bad, it must be noted that it is sad how undervalued Wenger is by the majority of Arsenal fans. Sacking a manager, while having a good effect for roughly 3 games with the new manager, then sees the side return to their original form under the previous manager. A Director of Football is a better alternative to sacking Wenger, as an effective DoF helps find new players and push deals through quicker.
Also, if it all goes wrong, remember one thing. Arsenal fans, most of you demanded a big name, Wenger gave you one with Suárez. Wenger can’t sign Messi or Ronaldo. The Emirates debt caused the decline of Arsenal’s status, as Arsenal slid to fourth every year due to lack of transfer spending. Most big name players aren’t interested in your club. They are interested in Chelsea, Manchester City and Manchester United. They are interested in clubs where the real money and talent is. The only big name who Arsenal could reasonably sign today is Suárez. Remember, YOU wanted this.
*Read ‘Moneyball’ and ‘Soccernomics’ in order to fully understand the transfer policy in place at Arsenal and Liverpool
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