nagging doubts about his sanity (Suarez, that is. Mind the pronouns), his ability to stay on the pitch when the going gets tough, and his commitment to his current club when its Champions League fortunes falter.
With our recent £40m+one bid apparently triggering some clause or other in his contract, we’d expect to see some kind of movement. However, Liverpool have, if anything, dug in their heels even deeper, whether it’s John Henry’s tweet or Brendan Rodgers saying we’re not “anywhere near the value of what he’s worth”. Of the two, Henry’s is brash trash-talk, the kind that’s harder to back down from.
We all know that the market for strikers is tight. With Jovetic, Cavani, Villa, and Tevez off the market, there are not many top-flight strikers available. In fact, Suarez and perhaps Rooney might be the only ones left unless a club is willing to make a ridiculous offer for someone who is not currently looking for a move. Džeko comes to mind, but how well he’d meet Arsenal’s needs is subject to debate, especially given how similar to Giroud he is (and with Giroud looking to repeat his habit of scoring 20 league goals in his second season with a club, Džeko might be superfluous anyway).
It’s with these issues in mind—the paucity of available top-flight strikers, the particular needs we’re looking to fill, the money we have available—that I find my mind wandering back to Cesc. I’ll spare us the ins and outs of the clauses in his Barcelona contract. Suffice it to say that there are circumstances at work that could make this a beautiful, beuatiful reunion. He’s played for Pep. He won silverware. With those desires fulfilled, he could come back to Ashburton Grove to a rapturous embrace. As divided as we are around Suarez, one player we could all agree on would certainly be Cesc.
I’m sure we’ve all done it before, but it’s well-worth envisioning it: Cesc, playing as a false nine or as a second striker behind Giroud, dropping down to receive passes and turning to thread passes to Podolski or Cazorla or Walcott streaking past bewildered defenders. I picture an atom with Cesc as a nucleus, his teammates as protons speeding around him. He’s played as a forward for Barcelona and for Spain and has done well: five goals and three assists in ten appearances, according to whoscored.com. If we’re looking for a gifted playmaker who can both score and create chances for others, we could do a lot worse than this.
We’d be hard-pressed to better than this, and I certainly hope we try. I want this so bad I’m willing to risk running afoul of Wenger’s Law, which stipulates an inverse-relationship between how many headlines link us to a signing a player and how likely we are to signing said player. Think of it: for 40m, we could have Suarez, who might go on to bite, dive, or engage in racism again, or we could have Cesc, who could go on to become the toast of London, a future legend to join the pantheon of names we talk about in breathless whispers along with Bergkamp and Henry and Adams. Suarez is a mere mercenary who may use or abuse Arsenal as a stepping-stone to some other club. Cesc is more a Gunner than Suarez would ever be, and his return would be an epic statement, not just of this club’s ambitions, not merely of our willingness to make a statement in the transfer window, but of something grander and more mythic. This would be a signing that marks a moment in the history of a club to which memories return to for decades.
Maybe I’m making too much of the possibility. Even if it did come to pass, maybe it wouldn’t be enough to vault us over the Manchesters. Maybe we’d still struggle to hold off Spurs to finish fourth yet again. Even so, I’m willing to give it a shot. I hope Arsène feels the same way.