Why Arsenal should avoid making a move for Karim Benzema
With transfer deadline day upon us, speculation is abuzz that Arsenal could yet make a late signing - just like they did two years ago for Ozil
Arsene Wenger’s smirk often gives him away. Even when the Frenchman is in staunch denial, the slight upturn of his crooked smile is enough to undermine whatever is being said. It revealed Arsenal’s move for Mesut Ozil two years ago, but this time Wenger has been rather less nuanced in his deadline day plans. He wants a striker, and has openly admitted so - no smirk needed.
"We have offensive potential but you always want more and more goalscorers,” he confessed following his side’s misfiring performance against Newcastle United on Saturday. “We are open and we are in the transfer market. If we find an exceptional player in any sector, we will do it.”
And so with transfer deadline day upon us, speculation is abuzz that Arsenal could yet make a late signing - just like they did two years ago for Ozil. Several players have been identified as potential targets, but one name in particular persists more than any other: Karim Benzema.
In football there are some things that you can be certain of: 2-0 is the sport’s most dangerous lead, Germany always win on penalties and Benzema - probably until the day he retires - will perpetually be linked with a move to Arsenal. But even by such a standard, conjecture concerning the French striker’s future has intensified this summer - especially after the demotion of Olivier Giroud to the bench against Newcastle.
Of course, it seems unlikely that Arsenal will pull off such a high-profile, big money move with so little time left - but as surely as the next transfer window will roll round, so will the rumours linking Benzema with the North London club. The only way they will ever disappear is if the move actually happens one day.
Perhaps if so many Arsenal fans weren’t so mistrusting of Giroud, such speculation would ease. The French striker is a decisive figure, and it would seem Wenger himself is sceptical of whether he is good enough to carry his side’s attacking frontline. But Wenger has something wrong if he sees Benzema as an alternative to Giroud.
Rather than giving Arsenal another option, Benzema would only provide the Gunners with more of what they already have. Sure, he might pull off the odd overhead kick or spectacular long-range strike, but he is wasteful and often careless in front of goal - just like Giroud. He lacks mobility - like Giroud - and tends to go missing in the biggest games - again, just like Giroud. Benzema is essentially Giroud in a different guise.
"It is true that every year here there is speculation about a new striker signing,” Giroud himself explained when asked whether Benzema could feasibly join Arsenal. “There were seasons when we signed [Alexis] Sanchez and [Danny] Welbeck, others when we were talking about [Luis] Suarez.
"It is obvious that in a club, a team, where a lot is expected, we need several good attackers and I understand that the fans want that we spend more money. But we have a very good squad, with quality, and I am sure that with this squad we can go very far. Aside from that, it would have been good if Karim had signed too, eh?"
But while Benzema was regarded the golden, shimmering trophy of Arsenal’s summer transfer window, his arrival wouldn’t change much. Transfer fees of around £60 million were mooted - which would make him the most expensive player in Premier League history - but the Real Madrid striker wouldn’t have improved the Gunners as much as £60 million should have. Giroud might be the most frustrating player in the Premier League, but Benzema is the most frustrating player in La Liga.
Wenger will most likely add a striker to his squad on transfer deadline day, although Benzema almost certainly won’t pitch up at the Emirates Stadium. The Arsenal boss is in Paris, presumably to tie up a deal for someone, as the North London club looks to widen their attacking options before the window shuts. But even if that signing is merely a stop-gap solution, Arsenal should avoid revisiting their Benzema pipe-dream. He’s not any different to what they already have.