By Alex Stevens
Arsene Wenger’s failure to sign Luis Suarez from Liverpool in the summer of 2013 was the biggest mistake of his 20-year Arsenal reign.
That is the verdict of pundit and Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher, who is convinced Suarez would have shot the Gunners to the Premier League title in two of the last three seasons.
Arsenal infamously bid £40million-plus-£1 for Suarez in July 2013 in the expectation that it would trigger the release clause in the Uruguayan’s Anfield contract and force the Merseysiders to sell him to north London.
Liverpool rejected the offer out of hand, Suarez stayed for another season and had a brilliant individual season that nearly ended in the title before joining Barcelona for £65million in 2014.
In the same period, Arsenal won the FA Cup in 2014 and again in 2015 but have failed to finish above third in the league or go beyond the last-16 of the Champions League.
“If you look back at Wenger’s 20 years in English football, there are so many highlights, but that day in July 2013, with the bid that enraged Liverpool, cannot be ignored,” Carragher wrote in his Mail column. “Not signing Suarez is the biggest mistake of Wenger’s reign.
“Wenger and Arsenal were under the impression, remember, that a bid of more than £40million would take Suarez away from Liverpool but they took that to the extreme. By putting just £1 above the fee they thought would trigger a deal, it ensured business would never get done.”
Suarez has taken his performances to a new level at Barcelona, where he has combined with Lionel Messi and Neymar to produce one of the most feared forward lines in football history.
The 29-year-old scored four goals for the Spanish giants in midweek to reignite their title challenge and take his tally for the season to an incredible 52, which has been supplemented by 21 assists.
“Had Arsenal pushed the boundaries for Suarez, perhaps with an offer of £50m, I believe they would have won the Premier League in two of the last three seasons,” Carragher added in the Mail. “That’s the thing about Suarez: whichever team he plays for, he drags them to a higher level.
“Suarez has been so good for Barcelona that we can legitimately ask whether he has taken them to a level of play beyond the majesty of Pep Guardiola’s all-conquering squad. Are you telling me he wouldn’t have had such a profound effect on Arsenal? Of course he would.”
In other Arsenal news, the Gunners are closing in on a triple deal that will cost a combined £450,000-a-week in wages.