According to Simon Austin of the Mirror, Arsene Wenger will be handed a £100 million budget this summer, and he intends to spend a significant portion of that war chest on recruiting the former Lyon man.
At first glance, it's a move that makes sense. Real Madrid have been extensively linked with a bid for Liverpool's Luis Suarez, and the Uruguayan's arrival would create a surplus of strikers at the Bernabeu. Selling Benzema would create both the squad space and the funds to make acquiring Suarez possible.
From an Arsenal point of view, there's no doubt that Benzema is an attractive proposition. This season, he has flourished under Carlo Ancelotti, forming part of the "BBC" attack along with Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo. Although Real missed out on a La Liga title, they're still in with a chance of winning a historic 10th European Cup. Benzema has contributed significantly; according to WhoScored, he has scored 22 goals and racked up 14 assists in 44 appearances.
He would also complement Arsenal's system. Wenger has previously indicated that if he is to bring in a new striker this summer, it will be someone who can play with, as well as in place of, Olivier Giroud. Benzema fits that bill; he has the power and intelligence to play as a lone striker but can also be deployed in a pair.
It's a partnership that the French national team have tried to make use of. Although the experiment has been largely unsuccessful, Wenger has previously voiced his belief that it could work. Writing in his Eurosport blog (h/t The Sport Review), Wenger said:
As for whether Olivier Giroud and Karim Benzema can play together, they can, yes. But up until now, their partnership hasn't worked so they must find another way.
It’s always hard. But you must have guys who are giving good assists as well as guys who can score.
So far, so promising. It seems Wenger is a fan of Benzema and believes he could play alongside Giroud.
However, there is a major spanner in the works. France have since jettisoned the proposed partnership and opted to play with one upfront, meaning Giroud and Benzema are now competing for the same international spot. Asked about the possibility of signing Benzema in November 2013, the Arsenal manager pretty much ruled it out. Wenger told John Cross of the Mirror:
I don’t think that [the signing of Benzema] is a good idea. In France we have a competition for the striker position, between Giroud and Benzema. You cannot fault Giroud's mentality of commitment. He has been mentally tested.
There it is, in black and white. Wenger is opposed to having the two men fighting it out to be France's No. 9 under the same roof. It's understandable, really. An element of competition can be healthy, but too much can be disruptive and damaging to confidence.
Arsenal do need a top striker this summer, but it seems unlikely that Karim Benzema will be the man.
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