I’m not exactly sure what showdown talks are, but it doesn’t take an extensive internet search to see that word, crunch, or other crisis-implying adjectives linked to Luis Suárez’s arrival at Liverpool camp. The Uruguayan striker, after three weeks rest following the Confederations Cup, is joining his club in Melbourne for preseason preparations, an event that’s given media outlets around the world trying to raise the stakes on their Suárez coverage.
Trust the coverage and you’ll get a picture of Suárez, his agent, and Liverpool’s management consigned to play out some old-timey ritual involved a butcher’s basement, a broken air conditioner, and four cans of baked beans. Three men enter; three men, some kind of deal, and some embarrassing hygiene leaves.
More cautions tones are marking a slow progression to the Suárez saga, one that has become centered on Arsenal. At one point, the Gunners were reported to have registered a $45.8 million bid, slightly lower than the $61 million Liverpool want. Now reports have Arsenal willing to meet the Reds half way, $53.5 million, though Liverpool’s holding firm. With Suárez rejoining the club, the process may pick up, whether it be toward transcending that $7.5 gap or killing off the Arsenal speculation entirely.
Beyond the dollars and the potentially ludicrous saga, there’s a strangely appropriate dynamic to Arsenal pursuing Suárez. Between the player’s importance to Liverpool elevating his price and Suárez’s other baggage, the few clubs who can afford him have either looked elsewhere or declined to enter the fray. Arsenal, on the other hand, aren’t used to having money to spend and seem either reluctant or slow to spend it this window. Yet they’re still a storied club who’ve qualified for Champions League and, if they land somebody of Suárez’s ability and pick up some other parts, could be fringe title contenders.
The situation has the feel of two rudderless ships, disabled, floating toward each other while their crews watch the rest of their fleets sail away. For Arsenal, Arsene Wenger’s skeptical view of the marketplace continues to see targets fade into the distance, while Suárez sees the Barcelonas, Real Madrids, and Chelseas of the world choose on other captains.
At some point, if they stay a drift long enough, these two ships may find each other. Then perhaps Suárez can be the player to guide Arsenal back to shore.