It is fast turning into one of the biggest transfer sagas of the summer. That is despite the best efforts of Arsene Wenger and Rafa Benitez, both of whom have confirmed the deal will not be happening. Regardless, Karim Benzema and Arsenal continue to be linked with a late matchup in this summer's transfer window.
Benzema has long been a target for the Gunners manager. In fact, BBC journalist and Arsenal transfer supremo David Ornstein originally declared in the summer of 2013 that the striker was Wenger's top target, but eventually settled for the world's best playmaker at the time in Mesut Ozil.
It has always been assumed that the fickle Real Madrid president Florentino Perez will eventually give up Benzema and agree to sell him for a reasonable, yet substantial, transfer fee. The free-spending Arsenal have always seemed to be heading the queue.
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The fresh rumour is that Rafa Benitez wants to make sure Cristiano Ronaldo, now 30, stays fresh for many more years by ridding him of any defensive duty. That would mean placing him in the lone striker role but would also come at the expense of Benzema.
Benitez has publicly rejected the idea, but evidence in Tuesday night's friendly against Tottenham seemed to suggest that new system is already coming into play. Gareth Bale played up front and scored against his former side. The Welshman then said after the game that he hoped to get a chance to play in the central role this season.
That seems to have been enough to realert Arsenal to the situation with the Guardian, the Telegraph and Goal all claiming that Wenger is prepared to break the club's transfer record to bring Benzema to north London. With all three publications releasing the information at a similar time, it is clear a source from the Emirates has been in touch to keep fans on edge.
There is, however, no suggestion that talks over a deal are currently ongoing and certainly none that Benzema has already agreed a contract with the north London club. That does not bode well for Italian journalist Emanuele Giulianelli, who today claimed the striker had agreed a four-year deal worth €9m-a-year.
First he tweeted this...
Finally, he tweeted this...
It is a bold claim and almost certainly a massive lie.
Mesut Ozil II
If a deal is to happen then it will almost certainly go down the same trail as Ozil, who joined the Gunners on transfer deadline day as big deals created a knock-on effect across Europe's biggest clubs. It also bears a resemblance because the €65million asking price would break Arsenal's transfer record.
Real Madrid love to do their business late but would also never sell a player without first bringing in another to show off. That could mean Benzema won't be allowed to leave until David de Gea arrives from Manchester United.
It is going to be a long month for Arsenal fans, but, as today suggests, Wenger does not want to let this link die down.
Can Arsenal still sign Karim Benzema this summer?
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