Arsene Wenger is no longer dreaming about what could have been had Arsenal managed to sign Luis Suarez from Liverpool in 2013.
The Uruguay forward scored his 41st goal of the season in Barcelona’s 2-1 win over Las Palmas on Saturday and is part of a formidable attacking trio at the Nou Camp, alongside Lionel Messi and Neymar.
Suarez heads to Emirates Stadium on Tuesday for the first leg of the Champions League last-16 tie between the two clubs, but he could have been running out for the home side had things turned out differently, with Arsenal failing with a £40million plus £1 bid a year before he moved to Spain 12.
Asked if he ever thinks ‘what if’ he had signed Suarez, Wenger replied: “Not now. It happened to me before but not now.
“He’s a player there and we have to keep him quiet on Tuesday night.
“Camaraderie. I believe Suarez gives that to a team. He did it at Liverpool, he did it playing with Edinson Cavani and Diego Forlan (for Uruguay) and did it well.
“Suarez is the kind of guy who manages to create that spirit in teams. I believe that apart from the individual talent the three have, they have a good understanding and cohesion.
“They have a great solidarity. I have seen that Messi gave the ball to Suarez (from a penalty) because he wanted him to be the best goalscorer.
“When you see someone like Messi, who could score his 300th goal, give the ball to Suarez when he had the opportunity to score goal 300, that means there’s really something in there.”
While Suarez slipped through Wenger’s grasp, the Arsenal boss did manage to get his man from Barcelona as he signed Alexis Sanchez in 2014.
The Chile international has been one of Wenger’s key men since his arrival but has struggled to rediscover his form of late after missing the festive schedule with a hamstring injury.
Wenger admits the 27-year-old is still feeling his way back but insists he will be ready to show his former club what they are missing over the upcoming tie after another lacklustre display off the bench in Saturday’s 0-0 FA Cup draw at home to Hull City.
“Don’t worry about Tuesday, he’ll be tuned in,” he said.
“I think it’s more focus. Sanchez – I don’t think he was completely ready to come on. It looked like that, but he grows with the game.
“He has a game based on risk and so when he’s not completely, completely highly tuned in it becomes dangerous.”
Sanchez is likely to start the game on Tuesday while the likes of Petr Cech, Aaron Ramsey and Mesut Ozil are also set to return having been rested completely at the weekend.