As a general unspoken rule football teams will look to hinder and jeopardise rival clubs wherever possible. Sometimes it’s by refusing to sell them a player, sometimes it’s by beating them to a player… you all know the story.
But such is the unpredictable and topsy turvy nature of the modern game that teams can sometimes inadvertently end up boosting those they are looking to beat. More often than not the outfit in question have no intention of doing it, and can’t be to blame, but that doesn’t change the fact that they’ve unintentionally contributed to their own potential downfall.
Arsenal find themselves in such a situation heading into the summer transfer window. Or at least they could do. Their search for a high-profile striker to lead their line has been long and unfruitful thus far, but when all possible candidates are considered there’s only likely to be three who will be realistically considered.
Luis Suarez, Diego Costa and Karim Benzema. All three have experience at the highest level, and there’s not one amongst them who hasn’t proven himself lethal in front of goal at one stage or another. Of course, Suarez is essentially a no go given his decision to pen a new deal at Liverpool and Costa is wanted by clubs who can offer far more financially than Arsene Wenger can. That leaves Benzema.
The French forward has been on the Gunners' radar for some-time now, with reports linking the two parties both before the start of this season and in the winter transfer window in January. Though no deal came close to being concluded, one would assume that Real Madrid, who are actively said to be looking for a new goal scorer of their own, would be open to the idea of a sale.
There remains but one problem; Paris Saint-Germain. The reigning Ligue 1 champions look like the only outfit set to oppose Arsenal in the race for Benzema, and they not only have the advantage of being placed in his home country, but of also being funded by mega-rich owners. At this stage it looks like the only allure the Emirates has is that it’s in a far more competitive league. As such Wenger might be tempted to turn to other, more suitable targets.
He must not. Losing out on the likes of Costa and Suarez can be considered a blow, no doubt, but allowing Benzema to join PSG presents an entirely different poison altogether, and from an unexpected source; Edinson Cavani.
Those who follow French football will most certainly have heard the rumours that the £55million man is disgruntled with having to effectively play as Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s understudy. Whereas the big Swede is regularly afforded the lone striker role, Cavani is forced to play out wide in unfamiliar territory. How might he then react if yet another out and out striker was brought to the Parc des Princes in Benzema? You can guess how… by seeking a move away.
Here’s where we get to the inner-workings of this concept. Manchester United are said to be keen on the notion of paying as much as it will take to lure Cavani to Old Trafford. Whilst at the moment his current club remain firm on their stance that he will not be leaving, and the 27-year-old himself has yet to hint at the prospect of a move, that could all change were Benzema to upset the balance. Put plainly, if Arsenal miss out on the chance to sign the Madrid striker, they could in turn be strengthening United for the new campaign.
It’s for this reason I think Wenger should turn all the cannons to the Bernabeu. Not only would Benzema bring the ability and reputable influence that his frontline is currently crying out for, but his capture would surely ensure that PSG would retain the services of Cavani.
In one stroke Wenger could hinder and jeopardise one of his biggest rivals. On the other hand, failure in the transfer market could do the direct opposite.