For Arsenal fans with long enough memory or allegiance to the club , Karim Benzema has always been ‘the One who got away’.
Persistently linked with both Arsenal and Manchester United in his Lyon days , the striker has been a long term target of Arsene Wenger, who remains a huge admirer of the 27-year-old Real Madrid striker and has reportedly tried to sign him several times, both at Lyon as well as the Los Blancos.
It finally seems Wenger has got the opportunity to do again , with several reports linking the French International with a move to Emirates doing the rounds since the transfer summer began. Since moving to the Santiago Bernabeu in 2009, Benzema has enjoyed immense success with the Los Blancos, firing in 88 goals in 189 league appearances and frming a part of the famed BBC attacking trident with Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo , which guided the club to La Decima the season before last.
Benzema’s future has been shrouded in mystery ever since the arrival of Rafael Benitez as the new Real Madrid manager. The Spaniard has been widely tipped to favor a move inside for Cristiano to play as a Center-forward, which would relegate Benzema to a role on the bench. At 27 years of age, Benzema is entering his peak years as a footballer and with the European Championship just round the corner next summer, a role as Ronaldo’s backup will definitely not appeal to the Frenchman.
With Real also seemingly targeting Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero to play alongside Ronaldo, Benzema’s race at Real appears to have been run , and it is widely expected that the striker will depart this summer.
Interest from several top clubs across Europe has been quoted , and Manchester United and Arsenal have emerged as the clear favorites for his signature. However, Arsenal are the ones who have first entered negotiations with the Los Blancos with an initial bid of £17.8 million for the Frenchman, which was rejected out of the hands by the Madrid top brass. Latest reports have now claimed that the Gunners are preparing another bid worth £35 million for the striker, which would be submitted over the weekend.
Gunners fans will be hoping that their club can wrap up the deal quickly, before United have a chance of nipping in and prize the striker out of their hands.
With Benzema in the team, Arsenal fans can hope for an instant transformation from potential title challengers to serious title contenders. After the addition of a world class goalkeeper in Petr Cech , and with further quality signings in midfield in the form of William Carvalho and Arturo Vidal believed to be on the way, there was strong belief among the supporters that the striking department was the only factor that could prove their Achilles heel next season. The arrival of Benzema will not only give Arsenal one of the best attacks in the league, it ,more importantly, has the potential to turn their hope into belief.