Arsenal rebounded from a disappointing opening Premier League loss in beating Crystal Palace on Sunday, but speculation continues that Arsene Wenger will add to his squad before the close of the summer transfer window. Arsenal defeated Crystal Palace 2-1 at Selhurst Park, helped by a spectacular volleyed strike from striker Olivier Giroud. Yet it is in the center-forward position where Arsenal are thought to be most keen to strengthen.
As debate has raged about whether Giroud has the ability to fire Arsenal to the Premier League title, the Gunners have been strongly linked with his France colleague Karim Benzema. Wenger has dismissed the idea that his side require Benzema’s qualities, yet the 27-year-old’s future at Real Madrid has repeatedly been called into question since the appointment of Rafa Benitez as manager. There have been suggestions that the former Liverpool boss intends to use Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale in the center, pushing Benzema to the fringes of the first-team. Yet in his latest comments, Benitez has insisted that the former Lyon striker is integral to his plans this season.
“Having alternatives, regardless of the position, always helps Benzema is a brilliant player,” he said, reports Spanish daily AS. “One of the ideas I have for this season is helping him to breach the 20-25-goal barrier. I’ve got a lot of confidence that he will do it.”
If Benzema is off the table, then Arsenal could yet look elsewhere for a striking upgrade before the transfer deadline. Another high-profile name to be mentioned in recent days is Swedish star Zlatan Ibrahimovic. The Daily Mail has reported that the 33-year-old has been told he can leave Paris Saint-Germain this before the close of the window and speculate that Arsenal could be one of the clubs interested in his signature.
Ibrahimovic has one year remaining on a contract that makes him one of the world’s best-paid players. And, while any transfer fee would be negligible, matching his salary would certainly be a disruption to Arsenal’s wage structure. If Ibrahimovic does leave the French capital this summer, a move back to former club AC Milan still appears a far likelier scenario.
Ibrahimovic is not the only PSG striker linked with a move to the Emirates. Teammate Edinson Cavani has been mooted as a long-time target, partly due to Ibrahimovic’s presence meaning that the striker has been forced to spend much of his time at the club playing out wide. Metro has even reported that the Uruguay international could secure a transfer to Arsenal “within days.” The source of the claim is questionable, however. And, given the age of Ibrahimovic and the uncertainty over his future, it would be a major surprise were they to dispatch with a readymade replacement.
Another unlikely deal has been suggested as an exclusive in the Daily Express. According to the tabloid, Arsenal are interested in bringing Germany’s World Cup winning hero Mario Götze to the Emirates. The creative midfielder’s future has been called into question by recent comments from him suggesting that his relationship with coach Pep Guardiola is not the best.
Bayern, though, have not given any indication that they are prepared to part with him two years after spending big to sign him from Borussia Dortmund. And, even if they were prepared to sell, Arsenal would be odd suitors. If there’s one position where Arsenal are particularly well-stocked it is in Götze’s spot, with Alexis Sánchez, Mesut Özil, Aaron Ramsey, Santi Cazorla, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Jack Wilshere and Theo Walcott all capable of occupying the advanced midfield roles.