ANALYSIS By Arsenal correspondent Tony Hughes
Arsenal are keeping close tabs on Karim Benzema but they are not currently working on a deal to sign the Real Madrid star, Football Insider sources understand.
Reports have claimed that the Gunners have made a bid for the prolific French striker.
Football Insider understands that is not the case, although Arsenal are closely monitoring Benzema’ situation and could make a formal move if he becomes available later in the transfer window.
Real’s stance is that they are only prepared to listen to offers for the 27-year-old this summer if they first manage to secure a replacement.
Football Insider understands that Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is a big admirer of Benzema and would be interested in making a club-record bid if he learned that there would be a possibility of signing him. For now, Wenger is prepared to play a waiting game and see if the front man becomes available, which is unlikely to be before mid to late August.
Wenger wants to make a significant forward signing this summer only if it is a player he regards as world-class and who would immediately strengthen his first team.
It is the same rationale the manager had when he sanctioned the £40million signing of Mesut Ozil from Real in 2013, and the £32million capture of Alexis Sanchez 12 months ago.
Benzema has scored 134 goals in 281 matches for Real since joining the club from Lyon in 2009. He has been a regular starter since Gonzalo Higuain joined Napoli two years ago, forming a productive alliance as the central player in a front three with Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale.
He has attracted strong interest from Premier League clubs, with Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal among those who is closely monitoring him.
Wenger has been coy on his interest in the Frenchman although it is understood the Gunners would be among the clubs who could pursue him if the possibility of a deal increases.
Nevertheless, Arsenal will bide their time and wait for further encouragement before strongly pushing for one of Europe’s most highly-rated strikers.