Arsene Wenger is famed for his meticulous professor-like approach to football management. Often averse to getting involved in a tussle with other clubs for big names, he has preferred a more tentative and better thought out approach to transfer dealings. In recent seasons this has began to frustrate the Arsenal faithful as year after year the club pass up the opportunity to add to their trophy haul.
A £40,000,001 bid for Luis Suarez would therefore appear hugely surprising by a Premier League club who are yet to ever spend more than £20m on a single player. Is this just a reaction to growing frustrations with the club or does it signal an overall change in tact?
The other surprise is the nature of the player himself. While, Suarez is clearly the kind of player to improve any club side his transfer would bring with it a certain degree of unnecessary baggage. Wenger has rarely favoured a tenacious style of character during his recent player recruitment, when you look at the current squad the only real individual to instil any fear into the opposition is perhaps Jack Wilshere.
This is undoubtedly an aspect of Arsenal that could be improved, often too content to flood the side with lightweight flair players without considering the need for a robust core. Suarez is hardly a towering figure, but what he does posses is an innate fight and drive that appears lacking in so many of the current Arsenal crop.
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A move for Suarez may prove to be a sensible one from an onlooker, but for those that know the stubborn Frenchman’s past it would seem a total oddity. Has the Supporters Trust suddenly taken over transfers? Has Wenger been broken? Has he seen the light?
My feeling is that this hunger to show some ambition at Arsenal comes at a boardroom level. Constant accusations that there is a lack of motivation to invest readily have clearly unsettled Gazidis, who commented recently in the Telegraph that:
“We get beaten up along the way but I think we are extraordinarily ambitious,”
This was in reference to criticisms that those in charge are more interested in their profit margins than on-field successes. Gazidis needs to realise fast that there is a difference between securing an unprecedented sponsorship deal and capturing a star player, both are ambitious yes but in pure footballing terms I know which interests me most.
The Suarez bid is perhaps more a statement of intent rather than a likely capture in itself. Liverpool have already rebuffed the offer and do not appear keen to sell at this moment, so it would seem Arsenal may well miss out on their man. Personally I do not see a man of Wenger’s experience and pedigree bowing down to pressures to spend easily, and I cannot believe the Frenchman would have sanctioned the bid himself. What the Suarez debacle does represent for Arsenal is a transition where the board are becoming more and more intent to meddle in the day-to-day business of the club.
Wenger’s approach is clear and always has been, if fans don’t like it so be it. What is detrimental to the clubs hopes is when people at boardroom level start to interfere with the managers transfer philosophy. If the board are unhappy with Wenger’s approach, rather than take it into their own hands, they should sack the Frenchman and replace him with someone who will push the club forward in the direction they want.
Wenger has already hinted that he is content with the current squad whilst looking to make small changes, speaking on the recent Asian tour he said:
‘We are still working on improving our squad but we have a basis of young players who are getting a chance here — players who started in the Premier League like Wojciech Szczesny, Carl Jenkinson, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Jack Wilshere, Aaron Ramsey and Theo Walcott,’
‘No-one else has done that. Look at our competitors. Who has started for them in the Premier League in the last 10 years?’
Unless Wenger is playing Mourinho mind games and attempting to bluff here, it would appear his philosophy remains very much intact. So unless the Suarez bid was a moment of madness, which I fail to believe, the change in approach comes from much higher up at the club.
Arsenal fans have as yet failed to see any major change in ambition coming to fruition. There are lots of continued murmurings but not any real action taking place; surely this won’t last. If the change in direction is coming at a boardroom level does this spell the end for Wenger at Arsenal? Or will those in charge eventually break the transfer resilience of the Frenchman?
The bid for Suarez sets something of a precedent for Arsenal, and I don’t think it is something that should be taken lightly. Announcing themselves fully as transfer-market heavyweights could be enough to destabilise a regime which has provided so much success for the North London club.
Is the Suarez bid a knee-jerk reaction or does it spell a change in overall strategy at Arsenal?
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