Luis Suarez is closer than ever to playing in a Fly Emirates jersey next season.
The Liverpool striker has been the subject of intense transfer rumours since the current window began; he has reiterated his desire to compete in Champions League football, and the Reds were not among the teams who finished high enough in the English Premier League table to accomplish that feat.
With a contract that runs through June of 2016, it's been understood that Suarez will not be transferred without a hefty fee attached to the move. Arsenal, Real Madrid and Chelsea have all been in the mix, but on Wednesday, the Gunners made an aggressive move to prove they are Suarez's No. 1 suitor.
As reported by Sky Sports, Arsenal had a bid of just over £40 million (£40,000,001, to be exact) rejected by Liverpool on Wednesday.
Any bid submitted for Suarez and accepted by Liverpool would shatter Arsenal's previous record for a transfer.
Although the Reds stayed firm in their stance that it will take a bid closer to £50 million to lodge Suarez away from their clutches, Suarez might have leverage with respect to his decision for the first time in the current transfer window.
As Mirror's John Cross and David Maddock detailed after the bid was submitted, Suarez's current contract forces Liverpool to tell him of other clubs' interest in the event that a bid is placed over the £40 million mark.
Arsenal did just that by adding a singular pound to the total, which was a cheeky way for Gunners manager Arsene Wenger to force Liverpool and Reds manager Brendan Rodgers to officially address the possibility of a Suarez move.
Dominic King of Daily Mail reported last week that Suarez's agent—Bayern Munich manager Pep Guardiola's brother Pere—was actively telling clubs that a bid in excess of £40 million would trigger a release clause in his client's contract.
Arsenal must have been among those listening to Guardiola's advice.
BBC Sports' David Ornstein reported on Twitter that Suarez will tell Rodgers and the Merseyside club that he wants to talk to the Gunners about a move from Anfield to Emirates Stadium:
Per that report, Liverpool are interpreting the clause differently than the star striker, but there's a good chance Arsenal's latest bid will open up transfer dialogue for Suarez further than we've seen since the 2012-13 EPL season ended.
Cross and Maddock's Mirror report ascertains that Suarez's camp will try to stall negotiations with Arsenal until Real Madrid can reach the £40 million plateau that has accelerated transfer speculation with the Gunners.
As you can see in this tweet from KTN, you don't have to dive into the stats very far to see why interest in the 26-year-old star has been high since the transfer window opened:
Since moving to Anfield from Ajax in the middle of the 2010-11 club season, Suarez has been a force for the Reds. He has 51 goals in all competitions for Liverpool, including 23 strikes in 33 EPL games last season.
The striker starred for Uruguay at the Confederations Cup earlier this summer, scoring three goals in four matches and helping his country reach the semifinals of the tournament before bowing out against Brazil.
Suarez joined Liverpool on Sunday in the middle of the club's Australian tour, and promptly reminded us all why he is one of the the most special football talents in the world.
Liverpool defeated Melbourne Victory 2-0 in a friendly on Wednesday in Australia. Suarez entered the pitch in the 72nd minute and was involved in the game-clinching goal; the Uruguayan lobbed a nifty pass to new Reds player Iago Aspas for a score in added time.
As 101 Great Goals pointed out after Suarez's late assist, his celebration did nothing to prove he's committed to the Reds in any long-term fashion.
ESPN UK also had no problem throwing fuel on the Arsenal-Liverpool-Suarez love triangle as he entered the match from the bench on Wednesday:
There's no question Suarez is disenchanted with Liverpool. If he were not, there would be chatter of his desire to turn the Reds from a mediocre club into a contending one. Instead, Rodgers and Liverpool hierarchies have played damage control with their star's status all summer.
Suarez wants to leave Liverpool, and now might be the best time to make that happen.
Arsenal has promised fans a splash this summer. Once in the bidding for Gonzalo Higuain, the Real Madrid star is apparently preparing for a move to Napoli. ESPN UK has reported that Higuain was undergoing a medical at Napoli on Wednesday to help complete a move to the Serie A club.
The Gunners have now focused their attention on Suarez and other ventures to upgrade Wenger's chances of competing at the top of the Premier League next season.
With a bid just over the threshold to force Liverpool's hand, Arsenal is proving their interest in Suarez is more than just a pipe dream.
Liverpool will now have to deal with the public relations nightmare of Suarez and his agent having their wish of a large bid coming true, and the idea that selling the Uruguayan striker might be in the best interest of all parties involved.
Then again, the Reds may bite the bullet and keep him at Anfield. With Suarez these days, you really never know.
Follow B/R's Ethan Grant (@DowntownEG) on Twitter.