Arsenal are clinging to a top four spot in the English Premier League table, and regardless of whether or not they qualify for the 2014-15 Champions League, they need to make a splash this summer to upgrade the roster.
There is still a sizable gap between the Gunners and the elite EPL clubs and now they have at least some leverage to land one of their coveted transfer targets in Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema. According to Ben Jefferson of the Express, Real are seeking to unload Benzema in an effort to acquire Luis Suarez from potential EPL trophy winners Liverpool.
Benzema was on Arsenal's radar last summer, and manager Arsene Wenger—who was actually in pursuit of Suarez before giving up—mulled making a reported bid of £40 million to acquire the French international in August 2013, per Metro.
However, a deal was never struck, and Benzema has remained with the Vikings. Now there's yet another opening for the Gunners to move in on Benzema, with Wenger and Co. having plenty of time to get together a feasible offer.
It will require patience for the Arsenal faithful before Wenger pulls the trigger, which may be difficult to endure given his past conservatism on the transfer market. But the wait should be well worth it.
Since Suarez is such an explosive scorer and would be such a dynamic force to team with Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo on Real, Arsenal should have some muscle in negotiating a transfer and get Benzema at a reduced cost.
Until a 4-0 drubbing of relegation-threatened Almeria, though, Benzema had uncharacteristically struggled distributing the ball, per WhoScored.com's official Twitter account:
But Real manager Carlo Ancelotti recently praised how well Benzema has performed, but he refused to discuss whether or not the club would renew the striker's contract, which expires in 2015, per Jefferson:
He's doing a very good job. He is consistent and he plays well.He scores goals and is an important player for us. The renewal of his contract is a subject that is not for me to comment because it is the business of the club [but] everyone is happy because he is doing a very good job.
Mesut Ozil was signed for £42.5 million from Real during the last summer transfer window, but he has only just returned from an injury layoff and has thus been unable to produce as expected. The Gunners have suffered numerous injuries throughout the 2013-14 campaign, and it's caused them to slide down the table and be on the brink of not making the top four.
Wenger discussed the ailments that have plagued his side down the stretch, per the Press Association's Tom White (h/t Daily Mail):
If you look at the injuries, the players we missed plus the schedule we had, it was much heavier than Liverpool. We lost (Theo) Walcott on an accident, we lost Ozil - we haven't really found why - [Aaron] Ramsey, maybe we overplayed him a little bit and should have rested him before he was injured.
This Gunners' nucleus that Wenger has slowly assembled flashed its potential in taking the early lead in the EPL before fading. The organisation must continue to be proactive in bringing in top-tier talent, and Arsenal especially needs a strong striker to bolster their attack to compete with the league's very best.
With the previous negotiations taking place last year, as long as Wenger makes a reasonable, strong offer and holds out long enough for Real to become eager to sell before it's too late to nab Suarez, the Gunners should get Benzema at a better bargain than they planned last summer.
Liverpool and Manchester City have scored 96 and 91 goals respectively in 2013-14, while the Gunners have had a mere 62. Adding someone like Benzema to the fold, who has had the benefit of learning from some of the globe's best in Ronaldo and more recently Bale, would be invaluable moving forward and would certainly add to that total.
Only Ronaldo (28) has scored more goals for Real this season in La Liga play than Benzema's 17 (h/t FoxSports.com). Since he's also capable of setting up chances for his teammates, Ozil, Walcott and Arsenal's other stars would benefit from his arrival.
At age 26, Benzema still has plenty of football ahead of him and has never had the true opportunity to shine on the world stage as the No. 1 offensive option. That should see him play with a chip on his shoulder, especially if he's dealt from Real in favor of Suarez. Benzema should be fighting to get out of the shadow of his Real teammates and establish a name for himself at the Emirates.