Arsenal are preparing to step up their interest in Karim Benzema after the striker left Real Madrid stunned by his contract demands, reports the Daily Express.
Benzema has just one year remaining on his current contract and has recently confirmed he intends to extend his stay at the Bernabeu beyond 2015. However, talks over a new deal have stalled after the 26-year-old demanded a 100 per cent pay rise from the club.
Benzema wants to earn a basic salary of £135,000-a-week, which would make him Real Madrid's joint second best paid player, level with Gareth Bale and behind only Cristiano Ronaldo.
The France international had his best season in a Real Madrid shirt last term, but the club are hesitant to award the player such a lucrative contract based on one good season. There is also concerns over his relationship with the fans; he was booed by the Bernabeu on several occasions last year.
Real Madrid directors are meeting on Friday to draw conclusions on the season and Benzema's future is likely to be high on the agenda. He is a favourite of both Florentino Perez and Carlo Ancelotti - not to mention a valued teammate of Cristiano Ronaldo - but if the club do not agree to honour his demands, a summer exit looks likely.
Arsenal are ready to take Benzema off Real Madrid's hands and have been alerted to the situation; they know this is a chance to sign one of Arsene Wenger's long-term targets as well as the world-class striker Arsenal have craved since Robin van Persie left for Manchester United.
Wenger has £100 million to spend on both transfers and wages this summer and is seemingly prepared to blow a big chunk of that budget by meeting Benzema's wage demands.
Benzema scored 17 goals for Real Madrid in La Liga last season and 26 in all competitions. However, his contribution to the Real Madrid team goes beyond goals.
His unselfish play up front is believed to be key to creating space for both Ronaldo and Bale with both players sharing a good relationship with the Frenchman.
If Benzema does leave, Ronaldo is unlikely to kick up a fuss, but, at the same time, it seems the striker is trying to take advantage of his good relationship with Ronaldo, Ancelotti and Perez by demanding the huge pay rise.