Choosing to spend upwards of £50million on a man whose biggest crime isn’t taking chunks out of opponents with his teeth, doesn’t sit well with a great deal of Arsenal fans. How can the Gunners expect to trust Luis Suarez, they ask? And it’s understandable.
This is a player with a past more chequered than Ian Poulter’s trousers; blighted by bad behaviour, suspensions, allegations of cheating and most tellingly of all, a cold-hearted willingness to aggressively renege on his contracts when someone better comes calling. Supporters at Groningen, Ajax, and now Liverpool will testify to that.
Why risk so much cash on such a bad egg? This serial offender is bound to let Arsenal down, the sceptics fear.
And they’re right. If Arsenal do land Suarez, it’s as certain as finishing above Spurs that at one stage or another, the Gunners’ relationship with the Uruguayan will end with some kind of cruel abandonment or betrayal. Despite this, I say so what.
Modern football is virtually bereft of morals already. Second chances are dished out as often as red cards by clubs who are willing to overlook misdemeanours because a player will enhance their team. When was the last time a true superstar was sent packing or sacked for misbehaving? It just doesn’t happen.
Clubs don’t hesitate to fire second-string nobodies that drift onto the wrong side of the tracks with drugs, drink or on-pitch transgressions. When they won’t be missed, when they don’t have value, they’re out on their ear. Good players, players that matter, players worth something, are rehabilitated and forgiven. It’s wrong, but that’s how football works on a moral level.
Liverpool Football Club and their fans have given Suarez outstanding support in spite of all that he’s done. Even now, after all he’s put them through they remain desperate to keep him, and it’s only because he’s a very special footballer that wins matches. Why should Arsene Wenger be expected to ignore that? Who can you rely on anyway? Almost everyone lets you down eventually.
Arsenal fans would never have expected heroes Thierry Henry, Cesc Fabregas and Robin van Persie to virtually down tools when they sniffed the chance of joining a bigger, more successful club. Legends, one and all, players Arsenal fans fell in love with, but each was willing to cold-heartedly walk out on the club they ‘love’ when a better opportunity befell them.
It’s sad but in professional football, trust is pointless. The game is selfish, it’s ruthless, and you never know what the future holds. So why not take a chance on Suarez?
If it had been me, I’d have probably adopted a slightly less risky approach and paid the money Real Madrid wanted for Gonzalo Higuain. The precarious possibility that Los Blancos will pip Arsenal to the post with Suarez and leave them empty-handed remains very real.
But Arsenal haven’t come this far, making an offer that’s treble the size of anything they’ve previously offered, to miss out. They’re all in. They can’t let him slip away.
Suarez and his management team must have given the Gunners enough encouragement to suggest he wants to sign. The Uruguayan’s body language against Melbourne Victory certainly proved his head is now in north London. After all, with nothing concrete on the table from the Santiago Bernabeu, where else were his distracted thoughts?
The Liverpool striker is in the prime of his career, and ever since he came to the Premier League he’s delivered goals, assists, energy and a huge amount of quality.
To lead the line for Arsenal you need to be able to bring others into play, close down defenders, stretch opponents, and be a predator. The Uruguayan, for all his faults, ticks all the right boxes - and then some. He’s brilliant.
If Arsenal do end up buying him, Suarez will provide value for money on the pitch. It’s guaranteed. I believe he could make all the difference in their trophy quest.
Yes there’s baggage, a lot of it. Yes, it will probably end in tears, but then again, so have plenty of other relationships down the years. Enjoy the player. While it lasts.
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Read more from former Arsenal player Adrian Clarke in his 'Professionally Speaking' column every Thursday on Unibet.