The Gunners had been on the verge of striking a deal with Real Madrid having identified Gonzalo Higuain as Robin van Persie’s long-term successor, but Wenger shifted focus to Suarez upon learning of a supposed release clause.
Arsenal bid just £1 above the £40m mark having, according to Wenger, already struck an agreement with the player. Liverpool dismissed the offer out of hand with John W. Henry, the club’s owner, infamously tweeting ‘What do you think they’re smoking over there at Emirates?’
Wenger insists it was not Arsenal’s intention to annoy Liverpool, but simply to ascertain whether or not the release clause, which ultimately turned out to be bogus, was legitimate or not.
In his new autobiography ‘Arsene Wenger, My Life in Red and White’ the legendary Arsenal manager revealed: ‘In 2014 were looking to get Luis Suarez over.
‘We had an agreement with the player and his agent. But the agent claimed that there was a clause: with an offer above £40million, Liverpool would be obliged to let the player go.
‘But thanks to an indiscretion within Liverpool. I found out that his clause never existed. To check this was true, we offered £40,000,001. This may have seemed ludicrous, I admit.
‘But Liverpool did not want to sell Suarez, they could afford to keep him and there was already an offer from Barca on the horizon.’
Arsenal’s campaign, meanwhile, unravelled after a 5-1 mauling at Anfield with Olivier Giroud, the club’s only recognised senior striker at that time, struggling to shoulder the goalscoring burden.
Despite his limitations, Wenger believes the France international, who scored over 100 goals for the Gunners before his move to Chelsea in January 2018, was one of the most underrated players he ever managed.
He added: ‘He commands huge respect as someone you can rely on in adversity. When we come to look back, it will become clear that he had a great career. Through his strength and hard work he achieved the recognition he deserved, both in England and France.’