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Exclusive: former Arsenal boss predicts Gunners will sign Liverpool star – eventually

Luis Suarez Luis Suarez

Jem Maidment
Thursday, August 1, 2013
11:55 AM

Former Arsenal boss Terry Neill is confident his old club will make a big signing this summer – but has urged fans to show more patience.

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Liverpool have confirmed the Gunners have lodged a £40,000,001 bid for Luis Suarez, who is believed to have privately expressed a preference to move to the Emirates.

But so far the Merseysiders have shown a reluctance to sell the Uruguay striker for under £50m – and rebuffed the offer.

Since the weekend, the Gunners are 6/4 with bookmakers to sign the striker, but significantly, for the first time since he handed in his transfer request, he is odds-on to remain at Liverpool at 5/6.

It is proving a frustrating process for manager Arsene Wenger, while judging by online forums Arsenal fans – desperate for a show of intent from the club after selling two captains in previous summers – are growing angry at the lack of movement.

But Neill, who managed the club between 1976 and 1983, has a unique view, having been on both sides of the fence as a manager and supporter – and says this impasse is a sign of the times.

“It is becoming the norm these days that these deals go to the wire,” said Neill.

“I expect it will be the same with Gareth Bale and Real Madrid too – it is all brinkmanship and seeing who will blink first.

“It is a real battle of nerves and Arsenal clearly have a valuation for the player and Liverpool have another – can the gap be bridged and a deal be brokered?

“I honestly have no doubt that something will happen, although I have to say with his past misdemeanours I do know of some Arsenal fans who question whether he is even right for the club.

“Personally, I think he would be a great signing – from a playing point of view.”

But while Arsenal wait, fans have had to sit and watch as title rivals Chelsea and, in particular, Manchester City, have strengthened over the summer months.

Neill, who also played at Highbury between 1959 and 1970, points out that those clubs are in a different financial position to the Gunners.

“City did their transfer business early because they have a seemingly bottomless pit of money, you must remember that,” he added.

“They’re not working in the same conditions as we are. That is the reality, they have money coming from elsewhere and Arsenal is run like a proper business.

“From an Arsenal perspective I see both sides of the coin – the fans and the management. The fans want a competitive side who will challenge for trophies – and so do I.

“The fans want to see that ‘statement of intent’ signing, they are anxious to get people coming rather than leaving the club, which has happened in previous seasons – it would be a nice change!

“But Arsenal are dealing with a club who do not want to sell and, as we will see in the lead up to the transfer window shutting in a month’s time, more and more deals will be done late on. Negotiations are long, drawn out, affairs these days.

“I was lucky. When I returned to Highbury as manager in 1976 I was allowed to go straight out and bring Malcolm Macdonald in nice and early so he was there in time for the start of pre-season.

“But I was more often than not frustrated. I tried to sign Frank Arnesen, Michel Platini, Preben Elkjaer and even Diego Maradona, and a lot of work went into them, but in the end they came to nothing.

“That’s the way of the world. As I say, these don’t happen overnight, so let’s just sit tight and see what happens…”

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Arsenal

Nickname: The Gunners.

Ground: Emirates Stadium (capacity 60,361).

Founded: 1886.

Honours: First Division (until 1992) and Premier League: 1931, 1933, 1934, 1935, 1938, 1948, 1953, 1971, 1989, 1991, 1998, 2002, 2004.

FA Cup: 1930, 1936, 1950, 1971, 1989, 1991, 1998, 2002, 2003, 2005.

League Cup: 1987, 1993.

Fairs Cup: 1970.

Cup Winners’ Cup: 1994.

Leading goalscorer: Thierry Henry, 228.

Leading appearances: David O’Leary, 722.