so pre-season began with a comprehensive 7-0 win over the Indonesian Dream Team yesterday. I saw bits of it (highlights are here) but there’s little to be gleaned from the match really. Some of the goals were very nice, and youngsters Kris Olsson, Chuba Akpom and Thomas Eisfeld will have enjoyed their strikes, but the opposition were poor and it was fairly routine stuff in the end.
The team have already moved on to Vietnam where we’ll play a friendly against the Vietnam national side on Wednesday. Arsene was very gracious, post-match, saying:
Everybody enjoyed their stay here because the people were very warm and welcomed us very well. We will keep a great remembrance of our tour and you could see that the players were pleasantly surprised tonight because they greeted everybody after the game and they enjoyed the stadium.
The tour is about connecting with fans in far away places, and making new ones, and I’m sure we’ve done that. Banner of the day goes to this fella (via @D_Gooner), the fans in Japan and Vietnam have some competition on their hands now.
Meanwhile, there’s even more stuff about Luis Suarez in today’s papers, with the journalists on tour (John Cross from the Mirror and David Hytner from the Guardian), saying that we’re going to test Liverpool’s resolve with a £35m bid and that Suarez is now the main target, ahead of Gonzalo Higuain.
I have to say I’m still not entirely convinced, even though I’m sure they’re being fed bits of info from Arsenal people while away on the tour. The suggestion that we have everything agreed with Higuain but now Wenger thinks Suarez is a better option doesn’t make much sense to me.
For a start, if it’s true, it sends a very odd message to Higuain. ‘We want you, but not that much’. If we were going as far as agreeing everything with him, then backed off to try and sign another player, it would more or less ensure that the guy you were trying to sign in the first place would be pretty unhappy that he was relegated to second-choice or an afterthought. The other issue, of course, is that it’s not as if Suarez’s availability, such as it is, has come out of the blue.
Since he bit Ivanovic it’s been obvious he wants out of Liverpool. If he was or is our main target, then this is something we should have been pursuing since the start of the summer. Perhaps we have, perhaps it’s just going public now, but it’s an odd leap to say the manager has switched his attention to the Uruguyan. The only reason I could think of that happening is if things have broken down entirely between us and Madrid over Higuain.
If that’s the case (and I really hope it isn’t) the public pursuit of Suarez is far more understandable; but the idea that we’d set it all up with Higuain then put it on hold just in case something ‘better’ comes along is hard to credit. Of course, ‘better’ is subjective. There are those who will say that Suarez is a better player and therefore should be prioritised, but as I’ve maintained all along, you have to look beyond the footballing ability.
Who would work best in our set up? Who would give you goals without the risk of bitey racism? Who could you spend a club record transfer on who wouldn’t be banned for the first six games of the new season? Who doesn’t have a history so chequered and nasty that any further incidents of bad behaviour are likely to land him with lengthy bans, meaning he misses even more games? Who is it that hasn’t expressed his disdain for the media in England thus ensuring the slightest bit of controversy is going to be a front and back page splash?
For me Higuain remains a much wiser use of our money. We get a top class striker, a guy who works hard and fights for his team, but who comes with none of the history, baggage and outright nastiness of Suarez. You can be a winner and a scrapper without being a scumbag, you know. He’s a guy who’d fit into our squad much more readily, a real team player and not a Prima donna.
With Ancelotti taking over at Madrid today, and the Spanish papers saying today was the day he was going to speak with Higuain, perhaps we might see something moving on this in the next couple of days. I really hope so, because as much as Arsenal spending big excites me, Arsenal spending big on Suarez does not. It leaves me feeling distinctly uneasy. Which isn’t to say that Arsenal players are whiter than white, every club has its issues and problems and players who do stupid things, but there’s a difference between stupid and kind of stuff Suarez has been guilty of.
When every Liverpool fan I know is desperate for us to take him off their hands, then that says something about how he’s viewed there. Great player, no doubt, but more trouble than he’s worth at the end of the day. I see no reason why he’d change just because he’s wearing an Arsenal shirt. He’s behaved badly at every club he’s been at, and at international level, why would he change his spots now?
Anyway, I realise some people will share my opinion on him, some will not. Some can overlook everything else that comes with his football talent, some cannot. I just find it hard to imagine that a manager as conservative financially as Arsene Wenger hasn’t looked at the whole lot of it and not considered it too much of a risk and not enough value for money. I guess we’ll find out sooner or later though.
Let’s hope something fun happens this week, though. As always we’ll cover breaking news and transfer info over on Arseblog News. Till tomorrow.