Carlo Ancelotti has insisted there won’t be any tailoring to his Real Madrid squad this January, to such an extent he’s continually rebuffed notions that understudy striker Alvaro Morata will be allowed to leave on loan.
But that could all change if Los Blancos president Florentino Perez is hit by another overzealous spending impulse and stages a coup for a high-quality striker this January – Liverpool’s Luis Suarez is reportedly his most desired target – which could instigate the departure of France international Karim Benzema.
The 26 year-old is currently Ancelotti’s first choice of centre-forward at the Bernabeu, finding nine goals and five assists in 17 La Liga starts. But that’s due to a lack of senior competition more than anything else, following Gonzalo Higuain’s move to Napoli in the summer, and the 6 foot front-man tends to split opinion in the Spanish capital.
Some view Benzema’s tally of 99 goals and 55 assists in 209 outings for the Spanish giants as a prominent enough return, but his La Liga strike-rate of 0.45 goals per game is less than Higuain’s (0.56), yet the Argentine was deemed surplus to requirements at the start of the year. Furthermore, he’s reached the twenty-goal mark domestically in only a single campaign with Los Blancos.
At the same time, the Frenchman has helped Real claim just two major honours since joining them from Lyon back in 2009, and is now into the final 18 months of his contract.
But none of that seems to have deterred Arsene Wenger’s interest. Perhaps due to the French connection, Benzema has been touted as an Arsenal target for much of his La Liga career, especially after the departure of Robin Van Persie in summer 2012.
It could prove to be an incredibly smart coup on the Gunners gaffer’s part – the former Lyon forward certainly fills the ‘star striker’ bracket the club have desperately lacked since losing the Dutchman to Manchester United, and in combination with ex-Madridian Mesut Ozil last season, the attacking duo racked up 20 goals and 25 assists in the Spanish top flight.
Snapping him up this January might be a tough task that depends upon outside factors, but none the less Wenger is expected to maintain his interest into the summer.
That being said, Borussia Dortmund have been more recently linked to the France front man as they search for a replacement to Robert Lewandowski, which could complicate transfer proceedings for the North Londoners.