Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has denied speculation the club is preparing a £40 million bid for Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema.
As set in motion by Dan King of the Sun, Friday's press indicated a megadeal could be on the table for the France international. However, Matt Hughes of the Times reported comments direct from Wenger, who combated the story:
ESPN FC also cited King's report and suggested "neither Real nor Benzema are said to be especially keen on a deal" but that president Florentino Perez is open to entertaining the idea of receiving a hefty sum for the striker, who may find his game time limited next season.
Neil Henderson of the BBC tweeted the Sun's headline:
New Los Blancos boss Rafa Benitez is set to offer leading scorer Cristiano Ronaldo a No. 9 role next season, pushing him away from the left wing and into the centre. He may be partnered with Gareth Bale—who could sit just behind—leaving Benzema in a rotational or substitute role.
The big man offers everything Wenger needs. He is a consistent goalscorer—averaging 14 league goals per season over the last five years, recorded by Soccerway—but can also add a new dimension to the way the Gunners play.
Benzema is an underrated battering ram, someone who can muscle defenders away, find space and pick a pass. He is excellent at bringing wide men into proceedings and is a lethal finisher inside the box. The 27-year-old also enjoyed a quality relationship with Mesut Ozil at the Bernabeu, a player who could take on a greater role at Arsenal next season with a move into the centre, reported Sami Mokbel of the MailOnline.
Wenger currently has Olivier Giroud and Theo Walcott at his disposal. While the former interweaves Arsenal's play well, he is prone to spells of excellent and poor form. Walcott, too, is the kind of player who needs a solid run before he can excel.
Giroud has averaged 14 Premier League goals in his three seasons with the Gunners, per Soccerway. However, he regularly misses key chances and an alternative is needed. He and Benzema have a working relationship from their time in the France national team and could enjoy some healthy competition in the same squad. Vitally, this competition would allow Benzema to improve with playing time, not rot on the bench.
The north London side continue to be linked with a number of world-class players, but they must act quickly if they are to significantly improve their squad before the start of the season. Wenger is keen to tie quality down, though, as highlighted by Hector Bellerin's new deal, reported Hughes:
Bayern Munich playmaker Mario Gotze was recently touted for a move after his agent, Volker Struth, made disparaging comments about Bavarian boss Pep Guardiola, per Bild (h/t Marc Williams of the Daily Star). However, Juventus are "pondering" an attempt to sign the World Cup winner as a replacement for Arturo Vidal, who is on the cusp of heading to the Allianz Arena, as reported by David Amoyal, a translator on Italian journalist Gianluca Di Marzio's website.
B/R UK's Andy Brassell recently discussed the latest players linked to Arsenal:
Wenger has already completed the capture of goalkeeper Petr Cech, a signing that genuinely improves what Arsenal already have. Despite the manager's hesitance, Benzema would be another such addition. He could help the side push toward the upper echelons of the Premier League table while also maintaining a presence in the Champions League.
The Gunners' summer business has been somewhat quiet so far, all things considered. Supporters may expect a flurry of activity soon, especially with the rest of their English rivals spending lavishly.