There has been further light shed on the the Arsenal summer transfer saga with Luis Suarez as Liverpool’s owner John Henry has admitted that the striker had a £40m release clause, that Arsenal triggered the clause, and that Liverpool refused to sell, putting the ball in Suarez’ court to demand a trade or for Arsenal to open litigation.
Henry, speaking to the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, admitted “He (Suarez) had a buyout clause of £40m. Arsenal, one of our prime rivals, offered £40m plus £1. What we’ve found… is that contracts don’t seem to mean a lot in England – actually, in world football. Since apparently these contracts don’t seem to hold, we took the position that we’re just not selling.”
Henry went on to explain that if contracts like Torres’ don’t matter and the player can demand a trade at any time, thus voiding the agreement between player and club, why should clubs honor the buyout clauses in player’s contracts?
Release clauses in and of themselves don’t mean that the player has to join the club triggering the clause. As Arsenal fans are left wondering what happened this summer and in January, this is a timely reminder that players have to want to join the club as much as the clubs have to agree to a fee. Perhaps Arsenal could have bid £80m and perhaps Liverpool would have accepted that amount, but even then Suarez could refuse, especially if Arsenal wasn’t really the team he wanted to play for.
Suarez had been complaining about the British press and his treatment in England all season. Saying he wanted a move to a different country. He is still refusing to admit that he racially abused Patrice Evra and still blaming others for his bad behavior. Though that all seems to be forgiven now that he’s breaking his career records for goals scored and within a shout to win Liverpool their first League title since 1990.
And after the bid was revealed and the Liverpool hierarchy openly mocked Arsenal. Suarez gave an interview to the press over his situation. Suarez’ anodyne interview this summer, in which he never mentioned Arsenal, certainly hurt the Gunners’ case. Suarez promised to press the issue with the Premier League saying “I have the club’s word and we have the written contract and we are happy to take this to the Premier League for them to decide the case but I do not want it to come to that,” but he never did.
Suarez could have easily made his position with Liverpool untenable and forced a trade to Arsenal but many suspected that the Uruguayan had ulterior motives. It could just be coincidence, but it seems unlikely, that Suarez’ release clause came to light when Arsenal were negotiating with Real Madrid for Gonzalo Higuain. Many suspect Suarez’ true target was a transfer to Madrid and that he would have done nearly anything to get that deal done.
Arsenal’s hierarchy took a lot of heat from supporters this summer over the deal with many people wondering exactly what happened and why the club couldn’t get Higuain or Suarez in. I was vocally against the Suarez deal not because of his ability to create and take chances but rather because I felt he wasn’t a good fit for Arsenal both footballistically and as a human being. Given the new revelations about Liverpool refusing to honor the contract and Suarez’ summer interview, it looks as if Arsenal had trusted those two parties to be honorable and neither were.
It seems Arsenal’s only mistake this summer was to cast £40,000,001 pearls before swine.