If Liverpool's 'Luis Suarez transfer will not happen' vow ISN'T bluster then Arsenal are in big trouble: Martin Lipton opinion – Martin Lipton


The reaction at the ­Emirates was to smile and ignore the latest words from Merseyside.

John W Henry’s that Luis Suarez will be allowed to go to Arsenal did not get any official reaction.

believe it is all bluster and bombast, the last fusillades from an army in headlong retreat.

Even Arsene Wenger, quizzed by one fan if he was going to sign the Uruguayan during Arsenal’s Members’ Day, put his thumb up.

For Arsenal, as with Chelsea over Wayne Rooney, the belief is .

But Henry did not amass a fortune by being an idiot, soft or a patsy.

He turned himself into a billionaire by being a hard-nosed businessman, who knew when to trade, and when to stick.

And if Henry is as good as his latest words, sticks to his vows, then things might be about to get a whole lot messier in N5.

From cocky assurance the fish was ready to be reeled in, to another empty net – and with no time to cast the rod again.

This, the , would be the summer it all changed, when the sacrifices of recent years would be placed in greater context.

Since Patrick Vieira struck the decisive shoot-out penalty that clinched the FA Cup in 2005, Arsenal supporters have watched a series of heroes depart for ­temptations elsewhere.

Andrew Powell 

Vieira himself, followed by Thierry Henry. Then, as they always knew would happen, Cesc Fabregas.

Promises of big-money replacements have come and gone with remarkable rapidity, the doubts over Wenger starting to surface by those who once proudly trumpeted “Arsene knows”.

But last August, as those Gooners were powerless to prevent Robin van Persie leaving not for a foreign field but for Old Trafford, to become, as Sir Alex Ferguson accepted, the biggest single factor in Manchester United’s title glory, was the tipping point.

Wenger appeared to recognise it.

Chief executive Ivan Gazidis certainly did, although his post-season promise of “a big summer” of spending and a £70million transfer pot, was a break with tradition at the most traditional of clubs.

This time, the Emirates faithful were told, the money was not only available but would be spent.

Gazidis said: “We also have new revenue streams coming on board and all of these things mean we can do some things which would excite you.”

It sounded a bit like a solicitor experiencing a mid-life crisis, splurging on a Ferrari when it had always been family saloons.

First, .

Unwanted by Real Madrid, Wenger identified the Argentine as the man he saw as his new spearhead.

Everything seemed in place. Except actually doing the deal, as Arsenal saw Higuain run into the arms of Rafa Benitez at Napoli instead.


Then .

Arsenal could afford him, the club suggested. He fitted Wenger’s profile. Except while Rooney wants to come to London, it is Chelsea blue he covets.

And now it’s Suarez.

Alerted about the alleged clause in the Uruguayan’s contract – who knows how that could have happened? – they offered £40,000,001 to trigger it. Or so they thought.

The plan was simple. Exploit the vulnerability. Force Liverpool to sell. Take their man for a knock-down fee – even if Wenger knew the hardest part was going to be ensuring Suarez learned to knuckle under and toe the line.

Fine, if it works, if you get your man. Less so if you overbid and have nothing in your hand.

Especially with the fans demanding tangible proof the promises are real, and not just hot air.

Arsenal, surely, did not ­anticipate the extent of Liverpool’s fury, , confirmed by Henry’s Illinois tones.

Suddenly, the stakes are being raised.

Should the season begin, let alone the transfer window slam shut, with 20-year-old free transfer Yaya Sanogo being Arsenal’s only summer capture, the underlying frustrations and tensions will surely be one bad result away from boiling over.

That bitter rivals Spurs are aiming to get four times as much for Gareth Bale as Arsenal received for Van Persie will also raise ­questions over the boardroom direction of the club.

Of course, if Wenger’s confidence is justified, if Suarez is destined for the Emirates, the doubters will hold their tongues.

If not, the firestorm will break out.

There will be no holding it back.

And you wonder what the upshot could be.


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