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Odds of Arsenal signing Benzema now at 5/2

3.95K   //    05 Aug 2015, 19:01 IST

With less than four weeks left in the transfer-window, the hypetrain is only going to pick up speed. Our win over Chelsea in the Community Shield is bound to add more momentum; Arsenal are now direct rivals to Chelsea's hegemony in the Premier League.

With that thirteen-match hoodoo slain, it's only natural that the rumours will fly. The latest news has us about to sign Karim Benzema—finally—for a transfer fee of around £46m. Rafael Benítez has been sounding less and less confident of Benzema's staying, saying "I think" he will stay at Real and he will "hopefully" stay.

SkyBet pegs the odds of Benzema to Arsenal at 5/2, still a bit of a long shot, but one worth watching...

In each of the last two seasons, of course, we've benefited from a domino-effect as rivals Tottenham sold Bale to Real, who then sold us Mesut Özil, and then Liverpool sold Luis Suárez to Barça, who then sold us Alexis Sanchez. This summer's sequence could see Liverpool sell Raheem Sterling to Man City (confirmed), who might then sell Sergio Agüero to Real Madrid, who might then sell Benzema to us. It's as far-fetched as it seems.
Having splurged some £43.75m on Sterling, and feeling a need to overhaul a squad that is ageing and perhaps jaded after a glut of trophies, Man City could be tempted to sell Agüero at a premium—the kind of premium that Real Madrid are known for paying.

Pause and ponder for a moment: could we really see a series of transfer windows in which Tottenham sell their talisman, Liverpool sell theirs, Man U sell theirs (Robin van Persie, for instance), Liverpool sell another (potentially) talismanic player, and Man City sell theirs? That two of those moves paved the way for us to strengthen our squad is almost too good to be true. Heck, I'm willing to throw in Petr ?ech to Arsenal and Asmir Begovi? from Stoke as another net gain. Begovi? will ride the bench at Chelsea while Stoke fret over who will replace him.

Fine by me.

Back to Benzema. I'll admit that I'm not sold on him (not that he's been sold to us). Even more so than Özil and Angel Di María, I worry that Benzema benefits from Real Madrid's style and dominance of La Liga (bar Barça, of course).

While Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are clearly world-class players, so far above the next tier of players that it almost beggars belief, I suspect that players like Benzema, Gonzalo Higuaín, and others are like remoras, feasting on the spoils and scraps of their betters. As such, they might struggle when thrust into the limelight.

Özil, widely regarded as one of the best at his position, struggled to make his mark in the Prem but has rebuilt his reputation. Di María floundered so thoroughly that he's been sold at a loss to PSG after just one year. Meanwhile, Higuaín, another once-coveted target, has also failed to fully impress at Napoli.

The question before us then is this: is Benzema a fighter, or is he a grifter?

There have only been a few players who have left Barça or Real Madrid and have gone on to achieve feats of greatness elsewhere: Zlatan Ibrahimovi?. Özil. Alexis. The rest—David Villa, Ibrahim Afellay, Gerard Deulofeu, Alex Song, Christian Tello, Nuri Sahin, Higuaín, to mention just a few—have flirted here and there with the exploits and achievements that elevate a player to the elite echelons, but none of them has delivered to his new club the kind of sustained excellence that makes their previous club or jilted suitors shake their heads in regret.

Would Benzema reconnect with Özil, his former teammate at Real Madrid, while also benefitting from the French connection on offer at Arsenal? Something in me wonders if he's been touted and talked up as a red herring to distract us from some other marquee-signing, much in the same way that all of the stories of "Higuaín to Arsenal" distracted us from the signing of Özil in the summer of 2013.

If I'm on to something, who then would we be after who's (a) available and (b) better than Benzema?

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Jon Shay has been an Arsenal fan since he as about seven years old, discovering the club on late-night cable tv. Growing up in football-challenged United States meant that he couldn't actually see an Arsenal match with his own eyes until 2008, but he's followed the club closely through thick and thin before deciding to start writing in early 2013.
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