Former Arsenal transfer negotiator Dick Law has revealed the truth about the Gunners’ attempts to sign Luis Suarez from Liverpool in 2013.
Liverpool made public the £40m+1 offer that Arsenal made but as Law explains, it was not quite so clear cut.
Were Arsenal close to signing Luis Suarez? Five key things to know…
- Liverpool signed Suarez from Ajax for £22.8m in 2011.
- He bagged 82 goals during his time with the Reds.
- A clause in his contract meant he had to be informed if anyone offered more than £40m for him.
- Arsenal made a bid of £40m plus £1 in 2013 which angered Liverpool.
- Suarez was sold to Barcelona a year later for £75m.
When Liverpool signed Luis Suarez from Ajax, the player had a clause in his contract which meant he had to be informed if any suitors made a bid of £40 million or more for him. This clause was not a release clause but just a point at which Suarez had to be told of the interest.
In the spring of 2013 it became known that Suarez wanted to leave Anfield and Arsenal were aware of this clause but Law has revealed the Gunners’ offer was only supposed to be a starting point for discussions.
“That spring, news got round to us that Suarez wanted out of Liverpool,” he told Goal.
“We got information that showed us what was negotiated between Liverpool and the player, and in our internal conversations decided that the clause was meaningless, that it was not a buy-out and it didn’t obligate Liverpool to do anything apart from have a conversation.
“So, whoever agreed to that clause in the Suarez camp was being less than clever because it was never a buy-out. What there was, was an obligation to discuss a transfer if a threshold was met and that threshold was £40m.”
Law added: “Now, we didn’t know if Liverpool received an offer of £40m whether they would say, ‘that’s not more than £40m’. We could have gone with £45m, but the point is we knew there was never a buy-out.
“So, it was never going to be a bid of £40m+1, it was always going to be the start of a negotiation.”
The offer was not received well by Liverpool owner, John Henry, who famously responded with the line: “What do you think they’re smoking over there at Emirates?”
Suarez did, in fact, try and force a move to North London but the nature of Arsenal’s offer appeared to make the Reds ownership even more determined to keep hold of the Uruguayan.
Law explained that the bid was only meant to kick off a conversation between the two parties and was not meant to be taken as a serious offer in itself.
“We knew that we had to exceed a certain threshold and so we decided to throw another pound on it,” he said. “We could have thrown £50 or £500,000, but it wasn’t going to make any difference to the final negotiation.
“The offer was just a trigger. Liverpool wanted to make a big deal out of it and that’s fine. When they received our offer they immediately publicised it.
“I think John Henry wanted to know what we were smoking, which I thought was a bit disrespectful. It was him having a bit of a go because he was getting ready to lose his star player. It was a good way to deflect attention.”
In the end, Suarez chose to stay at Liverpool for another season before moving to Spain the next summer with Barcelona, where he has gone on to win four La Liga titles, one Champions League and four Copa del Rey crowns.