Arsène Wenger is determined to test Liverpool's resolve over Luis Suárez with an improved £35m bid.
The Arsenal manager has lined up a deal for Real Madrid's Gonzalo Higuaín, with the Argentina striker having agreed personal terms in principle on a move to the Emirates Stadium. But the delay in signing Higuaín has come as Wenger explores the possibility of pulling off a coup by landing Suárez.
Arsenal have been in contact with Liverpool to indicate a readiness to pay £30m for the Uruguayan only to be told that the figure was too low. Only something much closer to £40m may make Liverpool reconsider, even though they will fight to keep their star player. Wenger is keen to give them a decision to make and Manchester City have also expressed an interest.
The striker has issued several messages about his future via the Uruguayan media and, in spite of his affection for Liverpool, he has reached a stage in his career where he wants to play in the Champions League. His willingness to entertain the notion of a transfer to another Premier League club has been surprising, given his insistence that he has been victimised by the mediain this country.
Wenger has also checked on the possibility of signing Wayne Rooney and, on Friday, upon his arrival in Indonesia for the first leg of Arsenal's pre-season tour, he described the Manchester United forward, Suárez and Higuaín as "realistic targets quality-wise". He has been extremely reluctant, though, to disclose any further details for fear of jeopardising a deal.
Wenger is under pressure as never before to spend lavishly and break Arsenal's transfer record that remains the £15m that he parted with for Andrey Arshavin in 2009, with the chief executive, Ivan Gazidis, having said that the club are ready to "compete with any club in the world" for the biggest names on the market. The escalation in their financial firepower has come from renegotiated sponsorship deals.
Wenger has spoken about being "out of the race for the top-level transfers for years but we are coming back now", although he retains an element of discomfort about the eye-watering fees being discussed. He says that his core principals will not change, in terms of his work ethic, style and desire to develop players. "If you look closely, it looks to me that there are very high transfers now," Wenger said. "There is a dual speed now. A very high level or no level at all. That's a big, worrying truth. Until now [this summer] you had £40m, £50m, £60m [fees] or nothing at all. It's been under £10m or around the big numbers. I don't think that's very healthy."
Madrid have ordered Higuaín to train with them on Monday , when they begin their preparations for the season, and they have stressed that he remains their player. But there is confidence at Arsenal that they have the means to close the deal for him.
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