Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has refused to rule out the club making an improved offer for Liverpool forward Luis Suarez. The Gunners have had a £30 million offer rejected by their Premier League rivals, with various reports suggesting that they will return with an offer of around £35 million in an attempt to land the unsettled Uruguayan. Speaking in Indonesia at the beginning of Arsenal’s pre-season tour of Asia, Wenger was coy about the speculation.
"Suarez? As you know the transfer period demands secrets and confidentiality, so I can't answer the question,” he said, according to ESPN.
Arsenal’s interest in Suarez has increased since a move for Real Madrid’s Gonzalo Higuain began to stall last week. While personal terms are believed to have provisionally been agreed, reaching a compromise over a transfer fee with Madrid has not proved so straightforward. Indeed, Madrid have claimed that no offer has been made for the Argentinian striker, amid reports that they are now open to the idea of him staying.
What is clear is that the futures of Higuain and Suarez are inexorably linked. Madrid remain favorites to land Suarez and if they do so it would leave the path clear for Higuain to move to the Emirates. Arsenal’s increasing pursuit of Suarez may push Madrid into action, although it remains to be seen if either will pay the in excess of £40 million that Liverpool are believed to be seeking. The Spanish giants’ cause is helped, though, by the fact that both Liverpool and Suarez undoubtedly prefer a move abroad.
Arsenal may have to temporarily switch their attentions to bolstering their defense, however. Captain Thomas Vermaelen has been ruled out of the tour of Asia with a back injury and could even miss the start of the Premier League season, leaving just Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny as the only two fit senior central defenders. And Sky Sports believes that will lead to Wenger reviving his interest in Swansea City captain Ashley Williams.
The Gunners, along with Liverpool, were strongly linked with the Welsh center-back earlier in the summer, but are said to have been deterred by Swansea’s £10 million valuation. For a player who will turn 29 next month and who has no experience of European action, it is a hefty price tag. But the sudden realization of the vulnerability posed by his lack of numbers at the back could push Wenger into the unfamiliar position of paying, what he considers, over the odds.
Meanwhile, Arsenal have missed out on the signing of Clement Grenier, with the midfielder agreeing to a new contract at Lyon. Wenger had revealed that he was pursuing the France international several weeks ago, while Grenier also hinted that he was keen on a move. But Lyon have persuaded the 22-year-old to stay and sign a two-year contract extension.
“We talked, and as Clement has good people around him and has his head in the right place and his heart with OL, things were finalized quickly," president Jean-Michel Aulas said, according to ESPN. "Clement has confirmed his attachment to the club."
And, intriguingly, Grenier now claims that he was always planning on staying put. "It was difficult for me to relax on holiday as things hadn't been settled,” he explained. “I found it tough to communicate. In my head, I knew I wanted to stay in Lyon and that it was my priority. I needed to be psychologically and physically ready to start European competition. This extension is good news for me personally. I've had six good months, but I'm not finished improving."