Arsene Wenger is keeping his cards close to his chest in the ‘game of transfers’, and rumours continue to suggest that he is keen on adding Real Madrid forward Karim Benzema to his ranks.
During Arsenal’s pre-season in Singapore, Wenger clarified that youngster Chuba Akpom would not be loaned out, but he recently joined fellow Gunners starlet Isaac Hayden at Hull City on a season-long loan deal.
It may come as a surprise, but Wenger is known for giving out as little information as possible in the transfer market. Akpom is rated very highly by Arsenal, and Hull surely must have given some assurances of a key role for him in their team for Wenger to change his mind.
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The Benzema saga
Arsenal are now left with few options in attack. Olivier Giroud is a solid backup for a title-challenging team and Theo Walcott has looked sharp in pre-season. Danny Welbeck is out injured but can do a job on top as well, despite his questionable finishing.
Wenger is building something special at Arsenal, and while he is a huge fan of Giroud and protective of his current strikers, he would love to add some registered class up front.
Furthermore, Benzema and Mesut Ozil know each other fairly well from Madrid. They would link up perfectly in a system build up around the German playmaker, who has reconstructed his style of play to rely more on his vision and experience than his pace and tenacity from Madrid.
However, the deals depends on Los Blancos, and their success in finding a replacement.
Another issue is the fact that Madrid manager Rafael Benitez may not have the final say on a potential deal for Benzema; that’s up to president Florentino Perez. He was the one sanctioning the departures for Ozil and Angel Di Maria, who were happy at the club and cemented as fan favourites.
Benzema also has rapport amongst the supporters, and a deal seems difficult without someone taking his place at the Santiago Bernabeu. Still, Wenger may test their patience with a club record bid for a player, one who he has tried to sign since the latter's Lyon days.
Wenger’s poker face
The Arsenal manager recently dismissed the Benzema rumours, but then again doesn’t he always do that? Alexis Sanchez, Ozil, Mikel Arteta are all examples of deals that Wenger didn’t want to acknowledge, until he was certain of the outcome.
The Benzema deal will be huge if completed and bring Arsenal one-step closer to the title. The forward is currently injured after pulling a thigh injury and missed Real's game against Tottenham in the Audi Cup friendly tournament.
The Daily Mail report that he is set to miss the start of the new season, and Wenger might have to decide on making a move for an injured player. Then again, if it helps Arsenal win the league in the long run, the injury arguably doesn't represent much of an issue.
In addition, Wenger cannot afford to play it too cool, as Manchester United are looking for a new striker after Radamel Falcao's loan deal ended and they chose to sell Robin van Persie. They are now left with Wayne Rooney as the only genuine striker and may be interested in the Frenchman as they look to continue their huge spending spree.
If you are Arsene Wenger and must chose between quality competition for Francis Coquelin or quality competition for Giroud, Walcott and Welbeck, where do you strenghten? What is most important to you? Let us know your thoughts in the comments box below.