Karim Benzema wanted an Arsenal contract worth £15million more than top earners Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez, Football Insider sources understand.

The Gunners tried to sign Benzema from Real Madrid during the summer but the deal fell through predominantly due to the Frenchman’s wage demands.

Sources have told Football Insider that Benzema requested a five-year contract worth £182,000-a-week (€250,000-a-week) plus bonuses, while, in turn, Real wanted a fee of £43.8million (€60million) for their striker.

The total cost of the deal would have been a staggering £91million and far exceeded those of Arsenal’s record signings of Ozil in 2013 and Sanchez 12 months later.

Benzema requested a £47.3million contract because he had signed his second Real contract just a year earlier and was in a stronger negotiating position than Ozil and Sanchez had been.

Ozil was only halfway through his first Real deal when he joined the Gunners and, although he signed a £130,000-a-week agreement to become the club’s top earner, it was not way in excess of his colleagues.

By contrast, Benzema wanted a contract that would have earned him £3million per year more than Ozil and Sanchez, and elevated into far superior financial position to any other players at the club.

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

Wenger was not put off the transfer fee but was unwilling to sanction what by a long distance would have been the most lucrative contract package in the club’s history for a player who turns 28 in December. He made offers to Benzema’s camp that were rejected.

With the two parties unable to strike a deal, Benzema took to Twitter eight days before the window closed to criticise the “clowns” who had claimed he could end his six-year Real association.

Wenger subsequently turned to his native France and targeted a £50million double swoop for Edinson Cavani and his Paris Saint-Germain colleague Adrien Rabiot but was unable to agree a deal.

The manager’s failure to either complete the Benzema Arsenal deal or bolster his strikeforce with the “exceptional” player he was seeking has prompted criticism, particularly in light of the news that Danny Welbeck has undergone knee surgery.

The England international is expected to be out for between four and six months, which raises further question marks about Wenger’s transfer policy.