EXCLUSIVE | By Arsenal correspondent Tony Hughes
Real Madrid are willing to sell Karim Benzema this summer in a huge boost to Arsenal’s hopes of signing the striker, Football Insider sources understand.
The Spanish giants 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.
Dicky Law, the club’s multi-lingual transfer and contract negotiator, is to meet Benzema’s agent Karim Djaziri in a fresh attempt to entice the player from Real Madrid.
Djaziri has publicly ruled out a move, 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, behind the scenes, Wenger has not given up hope of enticing his countryman from the Bernabeu.
Arsenal have so far stopped short of tabling a formal offer for the France international but they have privately been given encouragement that a deal could be possible.
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 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.
Wenger has been coy on his interest in the Frenchman although it is understood the Gunners will strongly pursue him if the possibility of a deal increases.