Arsenal have been given a boost after it emerged that summer target Karim Benzema's talks over a new contract at Real Madrid hit a stumbling block when they were supposed to have been concluded. Chelsea may also see this as an opportunity, as they were another of the teams, along with Arsenal, linked with a possible £40million move earlier this summer.
However, both were expected to have missed out after Santiago Bernabeu officials managed to agree terms with the France international over a contract extension after manager Carlo Ancelotti convinced them the striker was integral to his plans - but this now looks in doubt.
According to Spanish publication El Confidencial, the player both Arsene Wenger and Jose Mourinho reportedly see as an ideal addition to their attacking ranks has upped his salary demands at the last minute. The report claims Madrid president Florentino Perez believed the 26-year-old was ready to agree a deal worth €7million a year, but is now asking for €9million.
Benzema has been very impressive in the World Cup for France so far, scoring three goals as Les Bleus qualified for the round of 16 by topping their group, and the El Confidencial report claims that Paris Saint-Germain have shown an interest in response to this, making a sizeable contract offer.
Advantage to be taken?
Both Arsenal and Chelsea could see this as a possible advantage to be exploited, because the report also claims that Benzema's current deal expires in the summer of 2015 and Real Madrid may see a sale as necessary if PSG's offer threatens to influence him into seeing out the final year of his contract and leaving on a free transfer.
Arsenal do not have the money to match the big-spending Ligue 1 outfit and Chelsea do, but they have been careful recently to make sure they comply with Financial Fair Play regulations in their transfer dealings. They will be hoping they can lure Benzema to Emirates Stadium or Stamford Bridge through benefits other than money, however difficult that may be.
Arsene Wenger is a very highly respected manager in his native France and hardly a week goes by without a French player admitting it would be a delight to work with him. The Arsenal boss can also offer a more secure future of first team football than Real Madrid, who have been heavily linked with a possible move for another striker - Liverpool's Luis Suarez.
Benzema's international teammate Olivier Giroud is already at Arsenal and the two have linked up well when France manager Didier Deschamps has employed them as a pair in Brazil. Giroud was Wenger's only viable centre-forward option for the whole of last season and he is expected to make an addition in that area to help lighten the load on the former Montpellier man.
Benzema was a favourite of Mourinho when the Portuguese was in charge at Real Madrid, making him a regular starter and refusing to drop him when fans at the Santiago Bernabeu were whistling at him during a spell of bad form. Chelsea's manager is also on the lookout for offensive reinforcements this summer after a poor showing in that area last term.
The Blues are already close to signing Atletico Madrid striker Diego Costa, but may look to recruit further in that area. All three of Fernando Torres, Samuel Eto'o and Demba Ba failed to fire regularly when given a chance in the lone striker role and all three have been linked with this summer, though Eto'o's deal has expired and is unlikely to be offered a new one.
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