The Suarez Saga – Not This Crap Again
Liverpool were so offended by the extra £1 they refused to sell. If Arsenal had shown a little ambition and offered a fair price Suarez would be playing for us now.
The belief that any problem can be solved by throwing more money at it may be a sign of the times. This is as true for football as it is for philanthropy, social equality and national defence. The contribution of finance to a solution is determined by the desire and strategy of those involved. If the will is there but the finance is not you will struggle to achieve your goals. If the money is there but there is no direction or desire then you too will not move forward irrespective of how much more money you pump in. Arsenal fans should be more acutely aware of this than most.
There is so much wrong with the belief that money and ambition caused the Suarez deal to collapse, and the various derivatives of the opening statement, which is so freely espoused that I often struggle to decide what I should tackle first.
Something gnaws away at me with such ferocity when I see the social media outrage surrounding our failed capture of Suarez, and the ensuing justifications for said rants against the club and manager, that I can’t help but reply. I’m hoping this article will be some form of catharsis so that I can purge my need to get involved in these conversations. At the least I expect it to be a quick link to aid me in reducing the time I spend making the same argument over and again.
The Luis Suarez saga has to be one of the most tedious arguments in all Arsenaldom but given his clear knack for a goal it’s one that never quite goes away, like a pimple you pop until it bleeds.
So, where to start. The most important thing we need to understand is that Liverpool did not want to sell. Once we accept this then we can stop beating up the manager and club for failing to net Suarez and torturing ourselves over what might have been.
And he had a buy-out clause – I don’t know what degree I should go into this – but he had a buy-out clause of £40m. So Arsenal, one of our prime rivals this year, they offered £40m and one pound for him and triggered his buy-out clause. But what we’ve found over the years is that contracts don’t seem to mean a lot in England – actually not in England, in world football. For the first time (with Suarez) we took the position that we weren’t selling. Since apparently these contracts don’t seem to hold, we took the position we’re just not selling
John W. Henry
So when J.W.Henry famously tweeted “What are they smoking over at the Emirates” it is possible he meant that Arsenal were dreaming if they thought Liverpool would ever sell to them rather than it being a comment on the audacity of the £1.
Of course, for many the big issue was the £1. It’s one of those things where if it was successful we’d spend years talking about what a banter legend Wenger is but as it didn’t work it is suddenly disrespectful to Liverpool. People attempt to draw comparisons with selling houses “If you offer £200,001 for a £200,000 house they’ll laugh you out of the door” or a variation of that.
Well, no. A significant majority of people who have tried to sell a house will let you know that they often get bids under the asking price. They don’t bellow about disrespect like a town crier who has stumbled across a group of teenagers graffiting on a war memorial. They decline and wait for a better offer. If they were offered the asking price plus £1 then there is every likelihood they would proceed with the sale. After all, they got the price they were asking for.
Property analogies might work with transfers in general but for Suarez it is terrible. House sales are auctions, so a bid of the asking price won’t get you the house if someone else bids more. Most crucially, if a house is on the market then there is a willingness to sell. Both of these things were absent in the Suarez situation.
There was a price to activate a clause in the contract of Suarez to purchase his registration from Liverpool and they refused to honour it. They had no intention to sell. They were nothing like a home-owner receiving bids on a house they were actively marketing. They did not want to sell, and this is the most crucial detail.
With Suarez it is possible that even a high bid to start would have seen Liverpool take the same stance. Aside from the fact you don’t need to bid more than a release clause and there is no example of this ever happening as any clubs embroiled in a battle for a player with a release clause will only improve their financial offer to the player and not to the club – and Arsenal were never given the chance to speak to Suarez so this point is irrelevant. I think the money is a strawman though. I suspect that had Arsenal done what no club has ever done and offered £50m at the start and Liverppol still said no people would still complain we didn’t try hard enough because that’s how it looks. We’ve become conditioned to think that if you keep bidding you’ll eventually get your man but that isn’t the case any more.
The sheer wealth in the English game means that most clubs can choose not to sell if they so wish. Everton refused £40m for John Stones because they were adamant they would not sell. Clubs only sell now because they see value, monetary or not, in it, not because they’re in desperate need of a cash injection. Arsenal did not need to sell Van Persie but they felt £24m was a good deal for an ageing player with an awful injury record. In retrospect it was a good deal.
So why didn’t Arsenal take Liverpool to court? Simply put, they couldn’t have. Who are they going to sue? The contract isn’t between them, it is between Suarez and Liverpool. It would have been down to the Uruguayan striker to start legal proceedings. Had he done so Liverpool might have caved but they took a calculated risk and it paid off.
Taking Liverpool to court could have taken years. It took Jean-Marc Bosman over two years to win his case. Liverpool were banking on Suarez not wanting to be ostracised during this period especially as it was World Cup year. It was a gamble that paid off as Suarez had already missed quite a bit of football due to his biting ban, an incident he would repeat in Brazil. I think it is also pretty clear that Suarez was angling after a move to Barcelona and maybe saw Arsenal as a quicker route.
It was a frustrating saga but what more could Arsenal have done? They met the release clause and Liverpool just refused to honour it. How could Arsenal possibly have prepared for that?
Arsenal had a good chance of signing Higuain before they turned their attention to Suarez and by the time it was clear that wasn’t going to happen Higuain’s price had rocketed and he had one foot in Naples. It was the perfect storm of clusterfuckery for Arsenal. Suarez wasn’t going to be released and the switching of targets meant they also lost out on Higuain but hindsight is 20-20.
There is plenty of things to be irked about right now but something that happened 3 years ago and is so easily explained should not be one of them.
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