Arsenal and Liverpool's hopes of signing Karim Benzema from Real Madrid this summer have been dealt a blow after Spanish football expert Graham Hunter claimed that it's very clear the player's current club still see him as their principle striker.
TalkSPORT carries quotes from the La Liga correspondent speaking on the Alan Brazil Sports Breakfast show this morning, where he explains that the £63 million arrival of James Rodriguez is an acquisition to compliment - not replace - Benzema at the Santiago Bernabeu.
The news will come as a blow to Arsene Wenger, who has been heavily linked with a move for the France international. The Gunners boss has already completed the high-profile capture of Chilean winger Alexis Sanchez from Barcelona, but is believed to be on the lookout for further attacking reinforcements to ease the goalscoring burden on Olivier Giroud at the Emirates Stadium this season.
Benzema wage demands
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has also been mooted as an admirer of Benzema, as he continues his search for a replacement for Luis Suarez at Anfield. The Uruguayan striker joined Barcelona in a mouth-watering £75 million deal, and now the Reds want to reinvest that money to strengthen their own squad ahead of a return to the Champions League in 2014/15.
According to the Daily Mail, the 26-year-old would demand wages of around £200,000-a-week to move to the Premier League, but any chances of Carlo Ancelotti selling to either Arsenal or Liverpool now appear slim, following Hunter's latest comments.
Graham Hunter quotes
"[Karim] Benzema is in the process of renewing his contract," he explained. "It hasn't been done yet, but it is very clear that Real Madrid see him as their principle striker.
"They don't see James Rodriguez as a centre-forward, they see him as a guy who can unlock the three fabulous talents from last season, [Cristiano] Ronaldo, Benzema and [Gareth] Bale."
The £40 million price tag that was reportedly hanging over Benzema's head now seems irrelevant, as the former Lyon star edges closer to a contract extension at Real Madrid in favour of a lucrative move to England.
James Rodriguez arrival
As Ancelotti looks ahead to the 2014/15 campaign, he will be delighted by the attacking options available to him in the Spanish capital, with one of the most fearsome forward lines in world football.
Rodriguez was one of the star performers at the World Cup in Brazil this summer, and Real Madrid fans will be eagerly awaiting to see how he integrates with the exciting triumvirate this season.
The strength of the squad is highlighted by the fact that former Golden Boy Award winner Isco is seemingly available for transfer, after struggling to ascertain a regular place in the team last term. If he stays with Los Blancos his task will be even more difficult in 2014/15.
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