Arsenal's Gonzalo Higuain Transfer Saga Will End Like Kluivert for Wenger

Allan JiangTransfers CorrespondentJuly 24, 2013

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 14:  Arsene Wenger the Arsenal manager watches from the touchline during the Barclays Premier League match between Arsenal and Wigan Athletic at Emirates Stadium on May 14, 2013 in London, England.  (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger bidding £40 million plus £1 for Liverpool forward Luis Suárez debunks the leading criticism of the Frenchman's reign—his unwillingness to spend big on world-class footballers. 

It's a preemptive ploy, or as cynics will say, a charade, from Wenger to deal with the outcry from fans with the club not signing Gonzalo Higuaín from Real Madrid

Yes, the Gunners are an upgrade from Liverpool but Suárez's primary motive for leaving Anfield rules out Arsenal.  

"All the silly things they [the media] said about me, all the pictures, all the taunts and being persecuted by the paparazzi all the time," Suárez explained, via "I know it is normal being followed by the press, but it was too much."

The main office of The Sun, or as Reds call it, 'The S*n', is located in London. The Daily Mail, London. The Daily Star, London. The Daily Mirror, London. 

Where are Arsenal based? London. 

Try and guess who said the following quote, from France Football via Sports Illustrated:

The only thing I can tell you is that I can't stand the English press, which causes me, on a personal level, enormous problems.

They're always inventing things. I'm certainly going to leave one day. Today, my decision to leave or stay has been taken.

If they carry on, I'm going to leave. And as they're not going to stop, things seem to be heading that way.

Le Sulk. 

Nicolas Anelka carried through with his threat and his next club wasn't English (ironically, he'll commence his 14th season in the Premier League with West Bromwich Albion). 

Gooners around the world are being misdirected from the impending collapse of the Higuaín deal to the possibility of signing Suárez, a utopian transfer scenario which is scripted to fail.

The stark reality is that Arsenal are set to miss out on Higuaín, 25, just like they did with then 22-year-old AC Milan striker Patrick Kluivert. 

The year is 1998. Three years removed from scoring the winner against AC Milan in the UEFA Champions League final, Kluivert had only scored six times in Serie A for the Rossoneri after joining from Ajax.

Brescia, a team that was relegated to Serie B, scored eight more league goals than Milan that season.

With German international Oliver Bierhoff (Serie A's leading goalscorer at the time) moving to the San Siro from Udineseit meant the end for Kluivert at Milan. 

Wenger and Sir Alex Ferguson had one thing in common: both wanted Kluivert.

When the Dutch international star spurned Manchester United's advance, joining Alan Shearer, Gabriel Batistuta and Marcelo Salas as stars who said 'no' to Ferguson, he snapped. 

"Players we really want we usually get," Ferguson stated, via Nick Harris at The Independent"Maybe Kluivert doesn't know how big a club Manchester United is."

"Now we hear he wants to go to London," revealed Ferguson, further heightening the speculation linking Kluivert with Arsenal, which the Dutchman later confirmed via the Manchester United 1998-99 treble winning season review:

Interviewer: Manchester United. What happened with them? Did you talk about a transfer to Manchester United?

Patrick Kluivert: No, we didn't talk about it. There was only one club in England and that was Arsenal.

Kluivert's desire to join the Gunners was based on three reasons. 

  • His compatriots, Dennis Bergkamp and Marc Overmars, were Arsenal players.
  • Arsenal were Premier League and FA Cup champions.
  • Club legend Ian Wright, who scored 10 league goals in his final season, had signed for West Ham United

Milan upped the ante during negotiations. However, Wenger knew Kluivert wanted to leave and refused to buckle to the Italian club's demands. 

"We were very, very close to signing Patrick Kluivert before he went to Barcelona," Wenger said, via David Manson's Quotations from the Public Comments of Arsène Wenger. "But Milan changed the price at the last moment."

Talk about déjà vu because this is exactly what Real Madrid did with Higuaín, via Sid Lowe at The Guardian (July 5, 2013):

Gonzalo Higuaín's father and agent, the former footballer Jorge Higuaín, said: "We managed to get permission from Real Madrid to negotiate face to face with Arsenal. I will soon be able to watch my son play in the Premier League."

Higuaín is on the verge of signing for Arsenal for £23 million. The Argentinian striker is planning to fly to London in the next 24 hours to complete the move.

19 days later, Higuaín will sign with Napoli for 37 million (£31.9 million) as reported by Football Italia

Wenger's 'bid' for Suárez is £8.1 million (and £1) more than what Napoli are estimated to pay Higuaín, so if Le Professeur really wanted the Argentine striker, he would cede to Real's valuation. 

Once Los Blancos president Florentino Pérez moved the goals, what was a calculated risk for the Gunners swung the Spanish club's way.

2012-13 LEAGUE ONLYGoalsTransfer Fee
Robert Lewandowski (Borussia Dortmund)24€4.5M (Lech Poznań)
Roberto Soldado (Valencia)24€10M (Getafe)
Christian Benteke (Aston Villa)19€8.1M (Genk)
Dario Cvitanich (Nice)19€400K (Ajax)
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Saint-Étienne) [1]19€1.8M (AC Milan) 

[1] sold to Dortmund for €13 million.

What The Guardian's Ian Ridley wrote in November, 1998 is still relevant to the Wenger way:

The cry went up once more for a new striker given the deficiencies of Nicolas Anelka and Christopher Wreh.

Wenger has also expressed an interest in Alan Shearer, though he is prepared to pay less than half of what Newcastle wants and a deal is most unlikely.

At £8 million, Duncan Ferguson was too much; at £5.75 million and the age of 29, Dion Dublin was too much and too old.

The board will back me, Wenger says, but he feels a responsibility to the club not to buy players with no selling-on value. Laudable, except when you see what Dublin has recently done for Aston Villa.

It was pure Zen (from the Japanese word zenna: quiet mind concentration), which advocates work, practice and discipline rather than going out and spending £20 million on new players to tide you over. 

Wreh failed to emulate his countryman George Weah, but Anelka improved to the extent that he became one of the most sought after players on the transfer market.

Real Madrid paid £22.3 million for him, netting Wenger a £21.8 million profit, in a deal described as "an act of beautiful madness" by then Los Merengues president Lorenzo Sanz.  

"Rejection is an overrated hardship in football," Ferguson said in his autobiography. "I had no trouble believing that Kluivert was likely to be a bigger loser than we were."

The next season, United won the treble. 

From the 1998-99 season to the 2003-04 season, United won a Champions League title, four Premier League titles, two FA Cups and an Intercontinental Cup.

Kluivert won a solitary La Liga title with Barcelona.

He scored 120 goals in the next six seasons for Barça whereas Anelka's replacement, Thierry Henry, scored 181 times in his first six seasons for Arsenal (finished with 226 goals). 

Kluivert scored plenty of goals for the Blaugrana, but he didn't lead the club to an unbeaten league season or contribute to a Champions League title triumph. 

If you support Arsenal, Kluivert is why you shouldn't be in up arms about the failure to sign Higuaín, who'll fill Edinson Cavani's void, but he's not going to transform Napoli into a European superpower, nor was he going to do so with the Gunners.


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Statistics courtesy of WhoScored.comFox Soccer and


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