By Arsenal correspondent Tony Hughes
Arsenal have not given up hope of signing Karim Benzema in a sensational late summer deal, Football Insider sources understand.
The France international distanced himself from a move away from Real Madrid on Monday, tweeting his criticism of the ‘clowns’ who claimed he could leave the Bernabeu.
Nevertheless, Football Insider understands a dialogue is continuing between Arsenal, Real and Benzema’s representatives.
Although such a high profile transfer so late in the day might be considered unlikely, the London club have not abandoned all hope of capturing their top striker target this summer.
Any Benzema deal appeared dead in the water, publicly at least on Monday, although some have claimed that was merely a smokescreen aimed at deflecting attention from negotiations.
Arsenal have subsequently set their sights on Paris Saint-Germain forward Edinson Cavani, as well as his team-mate Adrien Rabiot, a versatile midfielder who has represented France at Under-21 level.
However, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger still regards Benzema as his No1 target, and is willing to sanction a late £45million bid for a player he regards as one of the finest centre-forwards in the world.
The Gunners made Benzema a contract offer earlier this month but the 27-year-old had reservations as to whether a move to Emirates Stadium represented a good career move.
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.