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Wednesday 1 October 2014

Luis Suarez transfer saga is a battle between Arsenal and Liverpool for not just goals but also global credibility

Mark Ogden, Telegraph.co.uk

Published 24/07/2013 | 13:56

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Luis Suarez reacts after setting up Liverpool's second goal during their friendly match against Melbourne Victory at the Melbourne Cricket Ground

There is more at stake than simply the footballing talents of Luis Suarez in the increasingly acrimonious tug-of-war between Liverpool and Arsenal over the Uruguayan.

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When the victor emerges, it will signify the global standing of that club and a bleak outlook for the loser.

On the face of it, Arsene Wenger wants Liverpool's talisman to add goals, creativity and potency to his Arsenal team, which is why the London club has now lodged a third bid for the player of £40,000,001, having had earlier offers of £25m and £35m rejected.

Liverpool, in contrast, are determined to retain the services of a player who, for all of the ugly controversies that have dogged his time at Anfield, is the outstanding figure in Brendan Rodgers' team.

The outcome of the Suarez transfer saga will be crucial for both clubs, however.

If Liverpool can keep him, Rodgers' insistence here in Melbourne this week that they remain one of the few clubs capable of resisting player-power will hold true.

With five European Cups and 18 domestic titles, Liverpool are still quite rightly regarded as part of football's aristocracy, but that image will take an almighty dent if Suarez slips through the exit door this summer.

Arsenal, on the other hand, need to make an impact signing in order to show to the world that they are no longer willing to be a feeder club for more successful rivals, both domestically and on the continent.

Cesc Fabregas, Robin van Persie, Samir Nasri, even Thierry Henry, have all left Arsenal for more ambitious clubs in recent seasons and Wenger has hardly replaced them with marquee names.

As a result, they have seen Chelsea emerge as London's most successful and glamorous club, the team that the big names want to join, and they have also fallen behind Manchester City due to the wealth of Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al Nahyan.

Liverpool have slid out of the Champions League picture in recent seasons, which has been a hammer blow to their hopes of competing for the best players, but they have still been able to attract the likes of Suarez and retain the players they want to keep.

Yes, they sold Fernando Torres to Chelsea in January 2011, but few could argue that the Spaniard was a player on the rise at the time following a poor 12 months prior to his departure.

The fate of Suarez offers a fork in the road for both Liverpool and Arsenal, however.

If Liverpool keep him, they will deliver a statement to the rest of the football world that they remain a major player, an elite club in the same bracket as Manchester United, Barcelona, AC Milan and Bayern Munich that only deals on its terms, not those of a disgruntled member of the squad.

But Arsenal also need to make a statement, to show that they are serious about competing with the big guns and live up to their claims as being one of the game's biggest clubs.

Arsenal haven't done enough to back that up, but Suarez gives them the chance to weaken a rival and do to Liverpool what City and United have done to Arsenal in recent summers.

Signing Suarez can be Arsenal's great leap forward, but Liverpool's fear of what may lie ahead without the 26 year-old should be their greatest motivation for keeping him.

If he goes, what hope would Liverpool have of replacing him with a player of similar calibre when they cannot offer Champions League football?

Losing Suarez could be catastrophic for Liverpool, which is why they are fighting so hard to keep him.

Telegraph.co.uk

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