Arguing over who supports the classiest football club is just weird. They’re football clubs. You might as well argue over whose kitchen has the most hygienic rat. Nevertheless, I feel a bit sorry for Arsenal this week.
The accusation that the Gunners lack class because they bid £40,000,001 for Luis Suarez is baffling. If I was going to accuse the Gunners of lacking class, I’d talk about the way they spent years using their not insignificant resources to gleefully scoop up players from smaller clubs, before bleating when Chelsea and Manchester City won the lottery and did it to them. But I wouldn’t do that, because all clubs do that, because all clubs are ruthless, which is as it should be.
Someone help me out here: What were Arsenal supposed to bid? They knew that Suarez’s contract had a clause for bids in excess of £40m. Why would they bid more? Were they really expected to round it up to £41m just to avoid hurting Liverpool’s feelings? It seems unlikely, not least because £41m is an acutely asymmetrical bid. To be on the safe side, and to maintain social standing, perhaps they should have gone in at £45m?
Ah, people have told me, it’s not so much the bid that lacks class. It’s the way that Arsenal have rubbed their knowledge of that clause in Liverpool’s face.
Well, let’s consider the options. There are three possible explanations for Arsenal’s knowledge of the £40m clause.
ONE: In an act of daring industrial espionage, Arsene Wenger and Steve Bould, clad head-to-toe in black neoprene, powerful suckers attached to knees and elbows, broke into Melwood in the middle of the night and stole the relevant paperwork, the scouting database and a box of Brendan Rodgers’ jaffa cakes.
TWO: In an act of reckless bravado worthy of a Bond villain, Ian Ayre gleefully announced at a cocktail party that only a bid in excess of £40m could steal Suarez away and deny Liverpool their glorious return to the Champions League. Little did he know that the dapper stranger who so enjoyed his pear mojito was none other than Arsenal chairman Sir Chips Keswick. Curses!
THREE: A third party with a vested interest in the transfer of Suarez, say, oh I don’t know, Suarez’s representatives, might have spent the summer telling Europe’s leading clubs all about the £40m clause while whispering, “Go on…try it…all the cool kids do it. And don’t worry, he hardly ever bites anyone these days.”
You can understand why Brendan Rodgers took a shot at Arsenal. It’s easier to blame your rivals than it is to blame the bloke you’ve been ceaselessly defending all season. It creates a siege mentality, it brings the club together in defiance. Rodgers could do quite well out of this.
And, let’s be clear, Rodgers is right. There is someone in this equation who lacks class, but it’s not Wenger. It’s not Arsenal Football Club and it’s not Liverpool Football Club.
It’s the person who signed a long-term contact last season and wants to leave already. It’s the person who told Uruguayan journalists that he wanted to leave months ago and then claimed that he was mistranslated. It’s the person who said he had to leave England because of the dastardly English press, then found out that Arsenal were interested and decided that perhaps the press weren’t so bad after all. It’s the person who, despite a standing ovation from supporters whose loyalty he doesn’t deserve, would evidently parachute out of a snake’s bottom to get out of Anfield.
If anyone lacks class here, it’s Suarez.
Arsenal? Liverpool? Real Madrid? Tottenham? Check our odds on where Mr Suarez will be playing his football next season.
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