Saturday 16 December 2017

'How much do you think he regrets that £1?'- Jamie Carragher slams Arsene Wenger's biggest transfer blunder

Arsenal's Arsene Wenger. Photo: Getty
Arsenal's Arsene Wenger. Photo: Getty

Tom Rooney

Jamie Carragher reckons that, when the time comes to reflect on his tenure at Arsenal, Arsene Wenger will be forever haunted by one particular act of brinkmanship.

Much to the increasing dismay of the Gunners faithful, Wenger has rarely wavered in his ethos of frugality in the transfer market.

The relatively recent acquisitions of Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez notwithstanding, the Premier League’s longest serving manager has remained a committed bargain hunter.

Over the last decade, in a bid to consolidate Arsenal’s finances and pay for the construction of the Emirates Stadium, the Frenchman tempered ambitions on the pitch, by perpetually settling for fourth place, though without ever launching a genuine assault on the Champions League – aside from 2006, when they were beaten by Barcelona in the final.

As their nearest rivals spent with reckless abandon and surpassed them in the pecking order, the net result has been a glaring lack of silverware and a disillusioned fan base.

Of course, winning the FA Cup two years in a row is nothing to be sneezed at, but the competition is no longer of major relevance in footballing or financial terms.

The contrast between now and the days of the formidable ‘Invincible’ side Wenger  built during his first decade in charge could not be more stark.

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Barcelona's Luis Suarez celebrates after scoring against Valencia during a Spanish La Liga soccer match at the Mestalla stadium in Valencia, Spain, Saturday, Dec. 5, 2015. (AP Photo/Alberto Saiz)

According to Jamie Carragher, it all could have been vastly different for Wegner had he secured the signature of Louis Suarez in 2013.

At the time, the uncontrollable Uruguayan was vigorously, and publicly, agitating for a move away from Anfield. Apparently, he was amenable to the idea of heading south to London.

Desperate to keep their prized asset, Liverpool saddled Suarez with a £40m bounty. Wenger decided to bid £1 over the asking price, which did not go down well with the Anfield hierarchy. A cavalier, if not fool-hardy, decision in the former centre-half’s eyes.

“When Arsene Wenger looks back,” Carragher wrote in the Daily Mail. “How much do you think he regrets that £1? In July 2013, when Arsenal were pursuing Luis Suarez, how different would things have been had they made Liverpool a proper offer?

“Wenger and Arsenal were under the impression, remember, that a bid of more than £40million would take Suarez away from Liverpool but they took that to the extreme. By putting just £1 above the fee they thought would trigger a deal, it ensured business would never get done.”

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Jamie Carragher (Liverpool FC via Getty Images)

“If you look back at Wenger’s 20 years in English football, there are so many highlights, but that day in July 2013, with the bid that enraged Liverpool, cannot be ignored. Not signing Suarez is the biggest mistake of Wenger’s reign.”

Suarez has scored prolifically throughout his career and, as one third of the MSN at Barcelona, it could be argued that he has taken the art of centre forward play to new heights. 

Case in point, his four goal turn during Barce’s 8-0 romp of Deportivo mid-week. For Carragher, who played many times with the South American, had he been donning the red of Arsenal over the last three years, the trophy cabinet at the Emirates would be considerably more stocked.

“Had Arsenal pushed the boundaries for Suarez, perhaps with an offer of £50m, I believe they would have won the Barclays Premier League in two of the last three seasons. That’s the thing about Suarez: whichever team he plays for, he drags them to a higher level”.

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