By Arsenal correspondent Tony Hughes
Arsenal’s summer-long pursuit of Karim Benzema has been labelled “embarrassing” by club legend Ian Wright.
Arsene Wenger had identified the Real Madrid star as his No1 striker target and spent most of the summer working on a deal to entice the Frenchman to Emirates Stadium.
But the Arsenal manager pulled out a week before the transfer window closed after being put off by the combination of the transfer fee and Benzema’s wage demands.
“I thought the Benzema situation was embarrassing in the way they pursued it,” Wright said on BT Sport as the Gunners slipped to a 2-1 defeat to Dinamo Zagreb in their Champions League opener on Wednesday night.
“Trying to get a player like that, straight off the bat you have to find out if they’re interested in coming. If they’re interested, you pursue it.
“I thought they dealt with it was pretty bad, and the way he mugged Arsenal off on Twitter by saying Madrid is his home wasn’t great.”
Sources have told Football Insider that Real wanted £43.8million (€60million) for their striker, who, in turn, requested a five-year contract worth £182,000-a-week (€250,000-a-week) plus bonuses.
Benzema was tempted by moving to Emirates Stadium, and Real were willing to sell, but the player would only have left the Bernabeu if he had been given a pay rise and if the Gunners had caved in to his demands.
The failure of the Arsenal Benzema deal and Danny Welbeck’s knee injury has left Wenger with Olivier Giroud as his only established centre-forward, with Theo Walcott as back-up.