‘What are they smoking at the Emirates?’ Liverpool owner Henry slams Arsenal over cheeky £40,000,001 bid to sign Suarez

jdLiverpool owner John Henry has let rip at Arsenal after the Londoners offered just £1 over £40million to trigger a key clause in Luis Suarez’s contract.

The clause demands that Liverpool inform Suarez of any offer in excess of £40m and Arsenal’s bid, which has got right up Henry’s nose, will only complicate the talks scheduled for Wednesday in Melbourne between the unsettled striker and his Anfield employers.

Henry tweeted this morning: ‘What do you think they’re smoking over there at Emirates?’

Arsenal have been left shocked by Henry’s public response.

The post from Henry – whose working relationship with Arsenal owner Stan Kroenke extends to baseball given they both own MLB franchises – was a very clear message to the Gunners over their latest offer for Suarez.

And Arsenal chiefs have reacted with disbelief at what they view as the Anfield owner’s very public attempt to embarrass them in their plot to sign Suarez.

However, as it stands, the Gunners, who are in Japan preparing for the final clash of their Far East tour against Urawa Reds on Thursday, are unwilling to be dragged into a public feud, despite Henry’s damning comment.

Even though Liverpool are not forced to sell the striker for that price it cranked up the pressure on them to deal with a player who has made it plain he wants to quit the club.

The move also confirmed Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger’s determination to land his No 1 summer target by smashing the club’s transfer record.

The new bid was instantly rejected by Liverpool, who have made it clear they do not want to sell the striker, and they will have been unhappy that Arsenal will not take ‘no’ for an answer having had an earlier offer of £35m turned down.

It is believed it would take a figure of more than £50m to contemplate a change of heart at Anfield.

What will concern Liverpool even more is that Arsenal chiefs have already agreed in principle personal terms that offer Suarez a five-year deal worth up to £150,000 a week compared with his existing £120,000 a week.

And the north London club are confident that if an agreement with Liverpool can be reached, everything is in place to ensure the deal can be concluded quickly.

Liverpool will sit down for more talks with Suarez after Wednesday’s friendly against Melbourne Victory at the MCG and reiterate that they do not want him to leave.


As it stands, Arsenal believe they have a clear run at Suarez, with Real Madrid yet to solidify their interest.

But the club are well aware that Suarez may favour a move to the Bernabeu and fear once Gonzalo Higuain — also a Gunners target — leaves, Carlo Ancelotti will step up his interest in the Uruguayan.

Arsenal made an official approach for Suarez two weeks ago, when chief executive Ivan Gazidis offered a deal that added up to around £35m. It was emphatically dismissed by Liverpool.

Given that they also made a tentative enquiry when £25m was mentioned, Liverpool told Arsenal then that not even £40m would be enough to secure a player who scored 30 goals last season. Suarez and his agent, Pere Guardiola, also knew this.

The fact that Arsenal, whose record transfer fee is the £16.5m they paid for Santi Cazorla last year, have come back with £1 over £40m has left Liverpool bemused, and strengthened their resolve to hang on to Suarez. Even though he has been a hugely controversial figure, Fenway Sports Group, Liverpool’s owners, are desperate to keep Suarez at the club.

Suarez joined Liverpool’s squad on Sunday night after travelling from Montevideo and when he took part in their first training session here in Melbourne, he looked sharp, enthusiastic and glad to be among his team-mates. The same was true around the team hotel.ju

Yet the Suarez on show at the MCG on Tuesday, where Liverpool trained in front of 15,000 supporters, was different, despite the best efforts of players like Steven Gerrard, who frequently put an arm around his shoulder and tried to gee him up.

He looked unsettled and left the pitch at the end of a 75-minute session with a few cursory waves, deep in conversation with his compatriot Sebastian Coates. Whether he plays any part against Melbourne Victory remains to be seen.

Yet Liverpool’s Brazilian midfielder Philippe Coutinho outlined Suarez’s importance to the club — and also inadvertently gave an indication of his value — when he said that the former Ajax striker has a talent comparable to Neymar, the Brazil striker who joined Barcelona for £48.6m.

‘For sure you can make the comparison,’ said Coutinho. ‘They are two big names, two great players that move around the ground and score a lot of goals. They have different qualities. Neymar is more about dribbling and organising the attacks, Suarez scores a lot of goals.

You can’t compare them directly as players. But Luis is on a par with Neymar in terms of qualities, for sure. They are both exceptional players. We all hope that he stays. Everyone here wants to play with top footballers and that is exactly what Luis is.’ Regardless of where Suarez starts the season, he still has six games to serve of the 10-match suspension he received for biting Branislav Ivanovic on April 21 — and will not be available for selection until the weekend of September 28.

Without him in the team, even greater things will be expected of Coutinho, who scored three goals and created a further five in 13 appearances following his £8m move in January from Inter Milan.

‘Luis being missing won’t change anything for me,’ said Coutinho. ‘I have got to get better and the more opportunities I will get here will help me. I didn’t play well at Inter. I didn’t have opportunities and I didn’t have confidence. That is why I didn’t do well there. It really helps now that I have a coach that believes in me.

We need to be more consistent this season than we were last year if we want to be in the push for Champions League. That has to be the objective.’ Meanwhile, Arsenal’s Lukas Podolski has backed his club’s pursuit of Suarez, despite the fact it could lead to him sitting on the bench.

The Germany forward said: ‘He is a big player. He’s scored a lot of goals so he’s a big striker. I’m happy when players come in. I want to play with the best players in the world.

‘I’m not scared about big names because it helps the team and it helps me to help the team when we play together.

‘The coach has his system and we will see what will happen in the next few weeks. At every big club you have competition, particularly at a club of the size of Arsenal.’

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