Saturday, 27 July 2013
Suarez, Wenger and principles
Arsenal's motto is Victoria Concordia Crescit, or Victory Through Harmony, a term enshrined within the club's heritage, the origins of which can be traced back to 1913.
Arsene Wenger has, by and large, abided by this throughout his seventeen-year tenure at Arsenal, ensuring those who represent the club - himself, staff, players etc - do so in a commendable, respectful manner. He is known to scrutinise the personality of a player before making a signing, analysing the effect they may have in the dressing room and judging if they are fit to represent the red and white of The Arsenal. It is clear we go about our business in a different way to those around us. Wenger's values have been fundamental to this. History. Class. Tradition. These are words associated with Arsenal Football Club. But what does the genuine interest in Luis Suarez tell us about Wenger's principles, or loss of?
There is, of course, no doubting his talent as a footballer; I'd be lying if I said one part of me would not love to see him play for Arsenal. Who knows, it may transpire that we sign him, he scores 25 goals this season, helps us win a trophy and stays free of controversy. This line of speculation is unlikely in more than one way, however!
There is an argument supporting his signature based around the fact we signed Robin van Persie as a volatile youngster with serious discipline problems, and transformed him into a top professional who managed to subdue his petulant tendencies. However there are several discrepancies with this comparison. Firstly, van Persie cost little over £2 million. There was little risk in financial terms if this investment backfired. Suarez, on the other hand, will cost closer to £50 million. The cost-risk ratio is thus much less appealing. In other words, a significant amount of money will be wasted if Suarez gets injured or fails to reverse his undesirable streak. Secondly, we signed van Persie as a 21 year old. At this age you are still developing as a person and a footballer. With time and effort, one's personality can be changed for the better. Suarez, however, is closer to 27. How much time in football terms has he got left to change? Is he arguably past the age where one's natural tendencies can be altered? This is all speculation. What I will say, however, is that I strongly believe Wenger will only sign Suarez if he genuinely thinks he can reform him.
Some may also say that every high calibre player has an edge; we've seen it with Dennis Bergkamp to highlight a notable example. But Suarez unfortunately carries a bit more than an edge; something more unsavoury, an inability to control himself in the heat of the moment. I won't bore you with a list of his misdoings - you've seen it all before.
But by at least attempting to sign Suarez are we, Arsenal Football Club, condoning racism, cheating and violence? These are questions that must be asked, no matter what your outlook is. Is it worth the hassle of another potential race-row, only this time with Suarez as an Arsenal player?
My worry is the divisions the signing of Suarez may create. Already, I know one black Arsenal fan who travels home and away to watch the team, who has vowed not to go again for as long as Suarez is an Arsenal player. A stance somewhat drastic in my view - but pertinent nonetheless. Of course, this is all hypothetical, as the player is yet to sign, but I do wonder what the effects would be in the stands as well as the dressing room if Suarez were to sign and controversy followed suit.
I have to say I am surprised by Wenger's interest in the Uruguayan, but a part of me is also excited. While on one hand it seems the boss is conceding to the pressure he is under and abandoning his principles, perhaps going for Suarez is just a necessary compromise at a challenging time in his managerial career. While it would go some way in fulfilling the club's new motto, one has to wonder if he is worth the money and the hassle, when there are high calibre strikers such as Higuain and Soldado seemingly available at the right price this summer. I'll leave you with one image, and you can make your own minds up about Suarez and Arsenal.
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