Arsenal were part of the one of the infamous transfer sagas in recent memory back in the summer of 2013 when the Gunners tried to prise star forward Luis Suarez away from Liverpool by opening talks with a £40m plus £1 offer designed to trigger a clause in the player’s contract.
The idea that a club could offer literally £1 above what was a derisory threshold was deemed rather comical and Arsenal ultimately got nowhere close to signing Suarez as the clause in question was never actually a buyout clause, as some onlookers at the time believed it was.
Suarez, who was suspended at the start of the 2013/14 campaign after biting Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic the previous spring, was desperate to leave Liverpool that summer and publicly condemned the Reds for failing to honour an alleged promise to let him go.
Now, six years on, former Arsenal transfer fixer Dick Law has lifted the lid on what really went on with that £40,000,001 bid in a fascinating interview with Goal.com.
“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,” Law explained.
The ex-negotiator even suggested whoever negotiated it on Suarez’s behalf was ‘less than clever’, and it proved to be that way because Liverpool snubbed Arsenal’s interest and kept the player, who went on to score 31 goals and win the Premier League Golden Boot.
“What there was, was an obligation to discuss a transfer if a threshold was met and that threshold was £40m,” Law continued. “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.”
Liverpool owner John W. Henry famously uttered ‘What do you think they’re smoking over there at Emirates?’, something Law still thinks was a disrespectful response, while he also revealed it was Liverpool’s choice to publicise as Arsenal usually took pride on working discreetly.
“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,” Law said. “It was [Henry] having a bit of a go because he was getting ready to lose his star player. It was a good way to deflect attention.”
Liverpool resisted Suarez’s pleas to quit Anfield and did reap the benefits, but only for another 12 months as Barcelona secured his signature in the summer of 2014 for £75m.
Even though Suarez already wanted to leave, Law suggested that Liverpool going public was what ultimately did eventually cost them the Uruguayan: “The upshot of the story is that Liverpool lost the player, the down shot is that we didn’t get him.”