Karim Benzema signed a new long-term contract with Real Madrid on Tuesday and, in doing so, ended any remote hopes Arsenal may have harboured of signing their annually linked target in the near future.
Arsenal were, as is the norm in the summer transfer window, credited with interest in Benzema to the tune of £30 million, as Arsene Wenger made plans to reinforce his goalscoring options at the earliest available opportunity.
Wenger has been on record before to express his admiration of the player, and there is little doubt that there has always been a genuine interest, although it remains unclear if Arsenal had ever made an approach.
This year, however, things were supposed to be different with Arsenal keen to recruit Benzema given that the player had just one year remaining on his Real Madrid deal. However, it was Alexis Sanchez of Barcelona who became Wenger’s marquee signing of 2014.
Perhaps Benzema’s representatives had indicated he would commit himself to Real Madrid and that any move from Arsenal would prove futile, but this will remain untold unless Wenger decides to break protocol and spill the specifics.
Meanwhile, one person connected with Arsenal who is not concerned by missing out on Benzema is Mesut Ozil, who tweeted his former Real Madrid colleague to congratulate him on another five years at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Ozil tweeted: “Five more years [at Real Madrid]! I hope facing you in the near future during a club competition, Bro!”
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After the initial links with Benzema earlier in the the summer, Arsenal have since appeared to have a more serious interest in signing a different Madrid player - midfielder Sami Khedira.
The signing of Sanchez means Arsenal’s strikeforce is bolstered significantly, although still perhaps not quite enough, and a far more pressing concern is now the acquisition of a proven holding player for the middle of the park.
This is a key position in need of improvement with Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini not up to a high enough standard, as proven against the elite teams last season, although this is something contested by Wenger.
The Gunners boss declared on Wednesday that Arsenal are well covered in midfield positions, and he sees no need to add another player before the close of the transfer window.
“We were never close to signing him,” Wenger said when asked about Khedira.
“Jack Wilshere has come back fit and in midfield we have offensive midfielders, we have box-to-box players, we have quite a few.”