Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers admitted Arsenal’s “ill-advised” bid to sign striker Luis Suarez turned them into something of a laughing stock at Anfield.
Arsenal submitted a £40m-plus-a-pound offer for Suarez under the misapprehension that it would trigger a release clause in the Uruguay international’s contract.
Under the terms of Suarez’s deal with Liverpool, though, the club only had to make the player aware of fact they had received offer, and were not necessarily obliged to accept.
Liverpool owner John W Henry tweeted asking what Arsenal “were smoking” at the time of the Gunners’ doomed pursuit of Suarez.
Rodgers was surprised by the North London club’s botched effort to land the South American.
And the Irishman stoked things up ahead of this evening’s Premier League clash between the two after he revealed he could only snigger when Arsenal upped their offer by just a pound.
“To be honest, we laughed!” Rodgers said, when asked his thoughts at the time of the extra quid bid.
“We were away on the pre-season tour when I saw it in writing. I think Arsenal were ill-advised on that, to say the least.
“Arsenal as a football club always had great integrity historically and so, when that bid came through, I can only say it was one of the worst pieces of information they ever received, from whoever.
“At the time we certainly saw the bid as derogatory.
“The two clubs have historically had class, it has been the hallmark of both clubs, but whether it was £40m and one pound or £40m and one pence our fight was always to keep him here because he is a top player.”
Rodgers felt vindicated with both his own and the club’s stance over the handling of the whole Suarez-to-Arsenal transfer saga.
That included Rogers’ decision to briefly exclude Suarez from first-team training because he did not want the situation to “fester” and “become a cancer within the group”.
Liverpool’s decision to not let player power dictate has been rewarded by Suarez’s impressive start to the season since he returned from a ban for biting Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic.
The 26-year-old forward has notched six goals in four Premier League games and also linked up brilliantly with strike partner Daniel Sturridge.
And Rodgers claimed Suarez has become a more mature individual since the summer.
“I can understand when some big clubs in European football say they want you, or supposedly want you, that it can maybe turn your head,” Rodgers said.
“My job is to protect the club and it was important during that time that the power of the club was seen. That’s what we did.
“But he accepted this was where he was going to be very quickly and from that moment, he has been first class. You learn from any tough period in your life, and reflect on it, and I think that’s happened.
“For me, I see an improvement in his game and a maturity in his personality.”
Rodgers also said Arsenal might struggle to remain at the top of the Premier League unless they bring in another striker in the January transfer window to ease the burden on Olivier Giroud.
Rodgers was in a similar situation being reliant on Suarez in the early part of last season and then on Daniel Sturridge while the Uruguayan served his suspension.
“It may become difficult if you lose that one striker,” Rodgers added. “I’d think Arsene Wenger will look to get a striker in.
“We had that situation last year with one recognised striker, but thankfully he was wonderfully robust and strong and that got us through until January.
“I’m sure Arsene will be hoping and praying he doesn’t get any injuries… and he’s obviously got Nicklas Bendtner.”
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