The latest rumors about Arsenal's Dutch striker Robin van Persie say that the stud will be courted heavily by both Barcelona and Real Madrid with Arsenal praying for a prolonged standoff, according to the Guardian.

The

The latest rumors about Arsenal's Dutch striker Robin van Persie say that the stud will be courted heavily by both Barcelona and Real Madrid with Arsenal praying for a prolonged standoff, according to the Guardian. (Reuters/Eddie Keogh)

Van Persie, who has made a total of 21 appearances for the Gunners this season in all competitions, has an astounding 19 goals thus far. Losing him would be a blow to the squad, but Arsenal does have a Plan B in case van Persie decides to transfer. That plan would be contingent on Real. If Real were to pick up the Dutchman, then Arsenal could make a move for French striker Karim Benzema as van Persie's replacement.

Benzema, who arrived from French Ligue 1 side Olympique Lyon in 2009 for a fee of around £35 million, has made a total of 102 appearances, having scored 48 times.

Regardless if van Persie transfers, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger confirmed that the team will be in the market for a striker once transfer time in January comes. Marouane Chamakh and Gervinho will both be absent from the Emirates when that time comes, representing Morocco and Ivory Coast respectively, in the Africa Cup of Nations. As a result, Wenger hopes to keep the depth Arsenal has enjoyed so far.

We lose players like Chamakh and Gervinho to the Africa Cup of Nations, so hopefully touch wood we do not get any injuries to our strikers, according to reports. But if an opportunity turns up in that department then we will buy.

Despite all the speculation, The Sunday Mirror's Paul Smith said on Britain's Sunday Supplement that van Persie will be signing a new contract with Arsenal.

Arsenal has often been viewed as frugal with transfers, especially during last summer's transfer window when the Gunners remained relatively quiet until the final 24 hours before the deadline prompted them to finally dish out the money to sign five players. This January, however, Wenger seems more open to the prospect of moving for players with or without van Persie.