EXCLUSIVE | By Tony Hughes
Arsenal could sell Olivier Giroud if they complete the sensational signing of Karim Benzema this summer, Football Insider sources understand.
The Gunners have made preliminary enquiries for Benzema after identifying him as the type of “exceptional player” that Arsenal Wenger has said he is looking for.
Although Arsenal are not yet working on a deal for the France international, they have considered how to make room for him.
Football Insider sources have learned that Giroud is the player most likely to make way in the Arsenal squad for his countryman.
Wenger does not want more than three senior strikers competing for what is usually a single role in his favoured 4-2-3-1 formation.
Theo Walcott has just signed a new four-year contract and Danny Welbeck, who joined in a £16million deal from Manchester United last year, is also regarded as having the potential to improve.
Giroud has also signed a new deal tying him to Arsenal until 2018 but he is unlikely to want to play second fiddle to Benzema if Wenger is successful in prising him from Real Madrid. Unlike Walcott and Welbeck, Giroud is not a viable prospect for a role on the flanks and he also turns 29 in September.
Benzema’s agent Karim Djaziri ruled out a move last Thursday, telling Sky Sports that his client “will be a Real Madrid player by the end of this transfer window, 1,000 per cent”.
But Football Insider has learned that Wenger has not given up hope of enticing his countryman from the Bernabeu.
It is understood that recent conversations have taken place between the Arsenal manager and Benzema’s camp, with Wenger given encouragement that a deal could be possible.
Any transfer would not take place until later in 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 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.
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.