Arsene Wenger is considering a move for Aston Villa striker Christian Benteke* in case he is unable to convince Chelsea to part with Romelu Lukaku, reports The Sun.
The Gunners are desperate to sign reinforcements up front this summer as they continue to struggle with just Olivier Giroud available. While Lukas Podolski and Theo Walcott have both played that role this season, Wenger has shown a reluctance to use them and has therefore had to rely on Giroud and the unproven Yaya Sanogo for most of the season.
That is why Wenger is keen to get a shortlist of potential additions ready early and has placed Chelsea outcast Romelu Lukaku near the top of his priorities. However, Arsenal know that Jose Mourinho will be reluctant to sell Lukaku to a direct rival and have fallen for Mourinho's tricks before.
Arsenal committed themselves to signing Demba Ba on loan last summer only for Mourinho to slyly pull out of the deal with minutes to spare, leaving Arsenal with no time to sign an alternative.
Wenger will not want to be caught out again and has highlighted Christian Benteke as a secondary option should a move for Lukaku fail.
His interest comes despite the player's current form. Benteke, who competes with Lukaku for a place in the Belgium national team, has had a season to forget with Aston Villa after bursting on to the scene last term.
Benteke has managed just 10 goals this term as a lack of form and fitness hinders his progress. That compares to an ever so impressive debut season in the Premier League last year, where he scored 19 goals for Paul Lambert's men.
Despite his regression, Wenger still sees Benteke as capable of adding quality to his Gunners squad even though the Frenchman would prefer the younger Lukaku.
Benteke, 23, has expressed a desire to quit Aston Villa in the past, handing in a transfer request before ultimately agreeing a new contract. Concrete interest from a Champions League club like Arsenal could well inspire Benteke to agitate for a move away from Villa Park once again.
*The Belgian striker has since been diagnosed with an achilles tendon injury and is set to miss the World Cup. It remains to be seen whether the injury will affect Wenger's transfer interest.