By Wayne Veysey
Arsenal have dropped their interest in Luis Suarez after being told that Liverpool will not yield in their unwillingness to sell the striker to the Londoners, Goal understands.
The Gunners are still in the market for a marquee centre-forward and have drawn up a shortlist of targets for both January and next summer.
Relations between the two clubs soured in the summer after Arsenal bid £40 million plus £1 for the Uruguayan. The Gunners had been led to believe that an offer of a penny over £40m would be enough to trigger a release clause in his contract.
It was the second of Arsenal's bids for Suarez in July and so infuriated the Merseysiders that they refused to do business with the London club despite the player making it clear he was keen on a move to the Emirates Stadium and subsequent indications that the Gunners would table an improved offer.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has now admitted that although their now infamous bid was not intended to provoke Liverpool - owner John W Henry tweeted "what are they smoking over there" after receiving it - it may not have been their smartest move.
"It was not the most subtle thing we have done but it was not meant to be provocative at all. It could be interpreted like that but it was not our purpose," he told the press on Friday.
"Relations are good — we kept in touch over that period. I don’t want to dwell on that situation. It was one of the transfers that didn't work and in every club you have two or three like that. Life is about opportunities that you miss, some that you take."Arsenal had turned their attention to Suarez after closely pursuing Gonzalo Higuain, Wayne Rooney and Stevan Jovetic during the summer. They also failed in a last-ditch bid to sign Demba Ba on loan from Chelsea.
Since the summer window closed, Arsenal have learned that Liverpool's stance has not changed and any approach for Suarez would be instantly dismissed.
The Merseysiders are privately, as well as publicly, confident of staving off interest in their prize asset in January but accept that they face another fight to hold on to the player next summer.
Real Madrid are widely considered to be be the favourites to capture Suarez, who has been in sensational form since returning to the Liverpool side following a 10-match domestic ban.
The 26-year-old has scored six goals in five matches since his ban, including a magnificent hat-trick in Liverpool's 4-1 win over West Brom last weekend.