Arsenal may have roared to the summit of the Premier League table, but manager Arsene Wenger is thought to still be fully aware of the need to increase his forward options in the January transfer window. Olivier Giroud has started his second season at the club in fine fashion, with five goals in nine appearances, yet there would be a major worry were the France international to get injured.
Youngster Yaya Sanogo and the previously outcast Nicklas Bendtner are the only natural strikers in reserve, while Lukas Podolski and Theo Walcott have not fully convinced when filling in up front in the past. There is now growing speculation that Wenger is keen on adding Giroud’s France teammate Karim Benzema to the ranks.
The former Lyon man is currently enjoying a miserable time at Real Madrid, where fans have accused him of a lack of work rate and jeered him on more than one occasion. While Benzema has stated that he intends to come through his difficult spell, the London Evening Standard claims that Madrid are prepared to offload him for just £20 million -- £10 million less than what they paid for him in 2009.
Speaking this week, though, Madrid president Florentino Perez explained that it would be down to coach Carlo Ancelotti to decide on Benzema’s future.
"I have faith in all the players in our squad," he told Spanish TV show Punto Pelota, according to Sky Sports. "Karim is a great player and we get offers for him all the time, every summer. All I can say is that the coach is the one who has the authority to do what he believes is right."
The reason given by the Standard for Madrid’s eagerness to ship out Benzema is the Spanish giants’ desire to sign Luis Suarez. The Uruguayan, of course, was the subject of a bid from Arsenal over the summer. Indeed, the Daily Mirror reports that Suarez is still on the Gunners’ radar.
Perez, though, has suggested that it is Radamel Falcao who is the more serious target. That could leave the path clear for Arsenal to make a renewed attempt to lure Suarez. However, given the complications involved, it is hard to envisage either Benzema or Suarez arriving in January.
The Mirror believes that a temporary solution could be sought in the January transfer window in the form of Fernando Llorente. The 28-year-old Spain international has started just twice for Juventus since his protracted free transfer from Athletic Bilbao in the summer. There have been a myriad of reports that the relationship could be a short lived one, although such talk appears extremely premature at this early stage.
Arsenal may also have to contend with one of their current players wanting to exit in January. Despite being the club captain, Thomas Vermaelen has found himself out of Wenger’s first-choice lineup since playing in a defeat to rivals Tottenham in March. Now, with Belgium having secured its World Cup place and the tournament starting to come into sharp focus, the central defender has revealed that he may have to insider his future at the Emirates if things do not change by January.
“I’ll have to think about that when it’s necessary,” he said, according to the Daily Mail. “January is still a few months ahead. Of course, never playing will not be the ideal situation for me to go to the World Cup, that’s for sure.
“People ask me if I panic because I’m not playing a lot but I’m not. I have spoken to the manager but it will remain private between us. Things can happen in a split second and change my situation. That can happen tomorrow or next weekend. In that case, we will speak differently in January. I have to be ready for that.”