Football really has become a funny old game when £20m for a player is considered a bargain, but after a summer when not quite household names such as Fernandinho, Willian and Erik Lamela moved to the Premier League for combined fees of around £90m news that Arsenal could pick up Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema on the relatively-cheap will have created a buzz around north London.
The Gunners currently sit atop the Premier League and are 5/1 to still be there on the evening of May 12th, but with striking options at Arsenal beyond Olivier Giroud so scant that 18-year-old Chuba Akpom has seen top-flight game-time this season Arsene Wenger is expected to go in for a striker in the January transfer window.
The Frenchman outscored £34.5m former Real Madrid teammate Gonzalo Higuain in all competitions in each of the last two seasons.
Arsenal thought they had secured Higuain’s signature after lodging a bid reported to be around £23m over the summer, but would not compete with Napoli’s offer of an extra £11m and lost out to the Serie A club for the player’s services.
The Argentinean forward was actually outscored in each of the past two seasons by Benzema and the 25-year-olds have each scored four goals for their clubs so far this term.
Benzema has 20-goal seasons in La Liga and Ligue 1 to his name.
During an illustrious five-year spell in Lyon’s first team which yielded four Ligue 1 titles, Benzema scored 66 goals in 148 appearances and topped the French scoring charts with 20 strikes in 2007/08.
After a tricky first couple of seasons at the Bernabeu the 61-cap forward replicated that effort in La Liga, firing home 21 times in the Spanish top flight and added another 11 strikes in cup competitions.
The striker’s rate of assists suggests he would adapt quickly to Arsenal’s style of play.
Arsenal’s fluid forward line relies on intricate interplay between its protagonists and Benzema’s impressive record of assists for Real, with 38 goals laid on for Los Blancos teammates since the start of the 2011/12 season, suggests he has what it takes to slot into Wenger’s system.
His successful pass-rate of 79 per cent last term compares favourably with fellow French forward and Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud’s 64 per cent completed pass stats and the former Montpellier man would surely benefit from playing alongside a player as unselfish as Benzema clearly is.