Arsene Wenger revealed on Friday that Luis Suarez 'agreed' to sign for Arsenal in 2013, as he explained why the club made its infamous £40,000,001 bid.
The failed transfer was one of the most embarrassing episodes in the club's history, and prompted Liverpool owner John W. Henry to mock Arsenal on Twitter by asking: “What are they smoking over there at the Emirates?”.
Arsenal had mistakenly believed that the extra £1 would activate a release clause in Suarez's contract, and in an interview with beIN Sports, Wenger has explained how he and the club managed to get it so spectacularly wrong.
Wenger said: “He was very close (to signing for Arsenal). We had an agreement with the player. We had been wrongly advised that he had a clause, with a minimal clause, but we had an agreement with the player. You can ask him.
“I'm convinced he wanted to join us and then they sold him. They kept him one more year, improved his contract and promised to sell him the year later to a club abroad."
What do you think they're smoking over there at Emirates?— John W. Henry (@John_W_Henry) July 24, 2013
Wenger also praised Suarez for his growing maturity over the last few years. “He had some behaviours that were shocking but I think as well you don't see them anymore since two, three years.
“He got rid of all the things that were a handicap for him and today you don't see that anymore. He's still on borderline with what the strikers do well, you know, go down in the penalty box but you want that from an intelligent striker.
“Overall I think he got rid of all the rest and rightly so and he deserved to be punished before and now you don't even expect it anymore from him."
Meanwhile, Robert Pires believes Wenger signing a new deal at Arsenal is more important than extending the contracts of Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil.
Wenger has yet to announce whether he will agree to a new two-year contract which is currently on the table, despite revealing last weekend that he has made up his mind about his future.
The 67-year-old continues to split opinion among the Arsenal fan-base, with a growing number of supporters calling for the Frenchman to leave when his current deal expires at the end of the season.
Protests have been held ahead of two recent home games, with the Gunners having lost six of their last nine matches and fighting to finish in the Premier League top four.
As well as Wenger's future being up in the air, it remains unclear whether either Sanchez or Ozil will sign new deals - with the pair having just 15 months left on their present agreements.
Wenger revealed earlier in the week that any talks with two of his key players have been put on hold until the summer as everyone keeps focus on addressing a slide in form, but Pires reckons it is the manager's own future which is the more pressing issue.
Asked by Sky Sports News about Sanchez and Ozil, the former Arsenal winger said: "I hope for him (Sanchez) and Ozil they extend with new contracts. The negotiation is very difficult and maybe complicated.
"But the most important is to see Arsene Wenger extend. Arsene Wenger is very, very important for Arsenal for now and for next season.
"I believe in Arsene Wenger. For me it was a privilege to work with him for six seasons. He was not perfect but he was good, we won some titles."
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