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Arsenal set aside 65M for Benzema raid

Wenger has put the plan to sign a centre-back on hold so that the club can make a significant offer for the France international.

Arsène Wenger hasn’t forgotten about Karim Benzema. The French manager wants to bring the striker to Arsenal and has put aside 65 million euros to lure Benzema to London, although Wenger himself is fully aware of how difficult such an operation would be.

Arsenal are looking to add a top level striker and a centre-back to the squad before the season starts and Benzema is a priority. The club’s technical department are studying other options but until they have used up every resource to land the Madrid striker, other candidates will remain secondary to Wenger’s plans.

Publicly, the manager has been careful to divert the attention away from the issue. “There are a thousand possibilities that he will continue at Real Madrid”, Wenger said last week, paraphrasing declarations made by the player’s agent.

Since Thierry Henry and Robin van Persie left, Wenger has been without an out and out centre-forward. Last season Alexis Sánchez contributed 16 goals, deployed either on the wing or as a false No.9 alongside Olivier Giroud, who scored less (14 in 27 outings last term) and has had run-ins with the boss, including one over a well-publicized incident involved a French model at the team hotel

But the operation to land Benzema is full of complications. He renewed his contract until 2019 with Madrid just over a year ago and as it stands, he is the team’s first choice striker, although Benítez has experimented this summer with Jesé and Cristiano playing in a more central position in an attempt to have an alternative to the ‘BBC’ attacking trio. During the recent tours of Australia and China, Benzema offered two contrasting sides to his game – he scored a sensational volley against Manchester City in Melbourne but was largely absent in the friendly against AC Milan in Shanghai. Benítez is also concerned that the player is struggling to apply the pressure which he is demanding from the whole team to make his 4-2-3-1 set-up function as he intends.

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