Liverpool owner John W. Henry has said that Luis Suarez will not be sold to Arsenal at any price, calling the idea of a deal “ludicrous.” The comments come after a week of twists in a transfer saga that has become increasingly acrimonious, despite Suarez and Arsenal’s professed hopes of completing negotiations in an amicable manner.
Suarez insisted again in interviews with The Guardian and Daily Telegraph that, not only did he want to leave, but that he was entitled to do so due to Arsenal’s bid of £40 million plus £1 that he claimed triggered a promise and clause in his contract allowing him to join a club in the Champions League. Those words were swiftly rebuffed by Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers, stating that no such promise had been made and accusing Suarez of disrespecting the club. And now Henry has sought to draw a line under the affair.
"We are not going to sell Luis," he said. "We're not in Europe this year and have not been in the Champions League for a while. To sell to a rival for those positions, or one of them, would be ludicrous.
“I'm unequivocal that we won't sell to Arsenal, whatever the bid is," he added. "I have not said it to Stan [Kroenke, Arsenal's majority shareholder] but I had a personal conversation with [Arsenal’s chief executive] Ivan Gazidis and told him we would not sell.”
It remains to be seen whether Henry’s words will deter Arsenal from making a further bid, or indeed Suarez from submitting a formal transfer request. Of course, it is unrealistic to think that there isn’t a price at which Liverpool would sell the Uruguayan. The Gunners could well see if an offer of in excess of £50 million weakens Liverpool’s resolve.
Still, with just over three weeks of the transfer window remaining and having put so much focus into securing Suarez, there will be plenty of anxiety at the Emirates. Alternatives could well be being hastily considered. One unlikely name thrown into that possible mix in recent days is Samuel Eto’o.
The speculation follows the decision of Anzhi Makhachkala’s billionaire owner Suleyman Kerimov to dramatically slash the Russian club’s budget. Eto’o, being the highest-paid player in the world, is likely to be the first player to try and be shifted from the wage bill.
Spanish publication El Confidencial is among the outlets to link Arsenal with an interest in the 32-year-old Cameroonian. Former club Inter Milan and Chelsea, now managed by his former coach at Inter Jose Mourinho, are also said to be interested. While the three-time Champions League winner, who has just a year remaining on his contract, would likely command a minimal transfer fee, his huge wages make him an unlikely signing for the Gunners.
Arsenal have also been attempting to have closer looks at two players in recent days by taking them on trial. Their request was successful with 26-year-old midfielder Alharbi El Jadeyaoui from Angers. The Ligue 2 side confirmed that the Morocco international was currently training with the Arsene Wenger’s men.
“For Alharbi, this is something else,” general manager Olivier Pickeu told Ouest-France. "We're not in a negotiation phase yet. Arsenal have watched him many times, with Morocco as well. We thought it would be nice for him to spend time in England. It is rewarding for him and it is rewarding for us."
However, Arsenal were denied their attempt to take talented United Arab Emirates attacking midfielder Omar Abdulrahman on a one-week trial. After impressing in last year’s Olympics, the 21-year-old has been linked with some of Europe’s biggest clubs, including Barcelona. But his club, Al Ain, have insisted that they are only willing to listen to firm transfer offers.
"Omar Abdulrahman is a national treasure, which is why the club is keen to study with great attention only serious offers that are beneficial to the player," chairman Sheikh Abdullah bin Mohammed said, according to Sky Sports.
"Omar is above having to go on trial to prove his skills, as he has played high-quality league and international matches, which are the real test. Any club willing to recruit Omar can check his performance in all his games and then submit a serious offer to sign him. If there is one, we are ready to negotiate with the team and reach a compromise."