EXCLUSIVE | By Arsenal correspondent Tony Hughes
Arsenal have offered Karim Benzema a contract as they step up their pursuit to sign the striker this summer, Football Insider sources understand.
The Gunners have outlined in discussions with Benzema’s entourage in recent days a lucrative package in a bid to entice him to Emirates Stadium.
As revealed by Football Insider, Arsenal are working on a deal to sign the Real Madrid spearhead, although they have not yet overcome the hurdle of convincing him to make what would be a shock move from Spain to north London.
There are believed to be some doubts as to whether Benzema is convinced that Arsenal can match his trophy ambitions.
Real are prepared to listen to offers of above £40million for the France international as long as they can secure a replacement.
Benzema, 27, is the first-choice centre-forward at the Bernabeu and will only be allowed to leave if a proven alternative is signed.
As revealed by Football Insider, Arsenal have already made preliminary enquiries for Benzema after identifying him as the type of “exceptional player” that Arsenal Wenger has said he is looking for.
Benzema’s agent Karim Djaziri has publicly ruled out a move, as has new Real boss Rafael Benitez but behind the scenes Wenger has not given up hope of enticing his countryman from the Bernabeu.
Any transfer would not take place until the latter stages of the window but 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 strong 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.
There is a possibility that Olivier Giroud could leave Arsenal if the Londoners could pull off what would be one of the summer’s most sensational deals.
Benzema has scored 134 goals in 281 matches for Real since joining the club from Lyon in 2009. He has been a regular starter in the spearhead role since Gonzalo Higuain joined Napoli two years ago, forming a productive alliance 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.