LONDON - If being humiliated in the fashion that Arsenal were at Anfield wasn’t enough to hit home where the Gunners currently stand in the Premier League’s ‘Big Six’, then Liverpool ’s transfer business in the ensuing 24 hours will humble them even further.
Liverpool’s £60m offer for Monaco’s Thomas Lemar – on the same day they finally agreed to sign Naby Keita from RB Leipzig for the end of the season – is just another crushing blow to Arsene Wenger after he was told in no uncertain terms that the midfielder was not leaving the south of France.
The France international, who plays out wide or through the middle, was attracting more than just admiring glances from Wenger earlier this summer. The Arsenal boss was spotted in Monaco with chief executive Ivan Gazidis to discuss the move, as well as a move for another player who they were also told wouldn’t leave having already lost too many big-name stars – Kylian Mbappe.
Before Sunday, Arsenal could have argued that they have had the better summer, signing £52m Alexandre Lacazette and keeping hold of key players Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil for one more season.
Liverpool, on the other hand, had failed in their summer-long pursuit of Keita, faced losing wantaway Philippe Coutinho and had only brought in Mohamed Salah, a player who has failed in the Premier League before.
However, after being torn to shreds by that so-called Premier League failure, leaving club-record signing Lacazette on the bench, seeing Sanchez laughing after being substituted with the score at 4-0 and Ozil feeling the need to publicly apologise for yet another game where he went missing, it is Arsenal who are left looking embarrassed.
And now Liverpool believe they can complete a move Wenger insisted was “dead” and sign Lemar. If the transfer actually happens, they will have had Arsenal’s pants down, boxers and all.
Even if Lemar is a replacement for the £118m Coutinho, it will be a positive move from Liverpool, showing they are as ready to evolve as the Brazilian is. Arsenal, however, resisted the changing transfer market and refused to pay Lemar’s inflated ransom, something Liverpool could yet again make them look fools for.
On Sunday Liverpool proved that they were everything Arsenal weren’t on the field: exciting, hard-working and, quite possibly, title contenders. On Monday they proved they were everything Arsenal weren’t during the transfer window: ruthless, ambitious and, maybe decisively, have looser purse-strings.