KARACHI: Arsenal are weighing up a £17.8million bid for out-of-favour Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema.
With new Madrid boss Rafa Benitez looking to use Cristiano Ronaldo as the club’s main striker next season, opportunities to play look to be few and far between for French international Benzema.
With Arsenal legend Thierry Henry stating earlier in April this year that Arsenal will ‘never win the league with Olivier Giroud as the club’s main striker’, manager Arsene Wenger could be tempted by Benzema’s availability.
Of particular surprise is the price quoted for Benzema, a player who is of the highest quality and arguably one of the best finishers in the game.
In June, The Daily Star stated that Benzema would cost Arsenal around £40million; now, however, the price has been halved, and would represent something of a coup for the North London club, should they pull off the transfer.
The deal is not straightforward, with arch-rivals Manchester United also mooted to have a standing interest in Benzema, along with French champions Paris Saint-Germain. However, with Wenger’s impressive record for developing French players such as Henry, Arsenal may yet be in pole position to secure the services of a player who would undoubtedly strengthen the North London club’s squad from also-rans to title contenders.
Turan signs for Barca
Turkey international Arda Turan has completed a £24million transfer to Barcelona, the Spanish and European champions, from La Liga rivals Atletico Madrid.
The deal, which could rise to £29million with add-ons, occurs under controversial circumstances, with Barcelona unable to officially sign players until January 2016 due to their breaching of rules regarding the signing of young players.
Perhaps even more bizarre is the fact that the transfer occurred without ratification from the club’s highest authority, as the presidential elections are still ongoing.
This resulted in a peculiar clause being inserted into Turan’s contract, whereby the successful presidential candidate can cancel the deal within two days of his premiership, should he disagree with the purchase of Turan.
Turan joined Atletico Madrid in 2011 from Turkish club Galatasaray, going on to score 22 goals and provide 32 assists during his four seasons with the Spanish club.
Bayern Munich to part with Robben and Muller to lure Di Maria
Bayern Munich are reportedly prepared to offer Arjen Robben and Thomas Muller for Manchester United winger Angel Di Maria, according to The Independent.
The deal also contains a cash element, meaning that the estimated outlay from Bayern Munich would be close to £70million; a very good piece of business for Manchester United should the deal go ahead, considering Di Maria’s generally poor debut season in the Premier League.
However, the likelihood of this deal is somewhat suspect. Why Pep Guardiola would want to prize Di Maria away from Manchester to the Allianz Arena, after such a disappointing first season in the Premier League, is open to debate. Even more doubtful is Guardiola’s willingness to let Thomas Muller leave Munich, a player who has been crucial to Bayern Munich’s success in recent years, and is still relatively young.
The inclusion of Robben in the deal is perhaps more feasible – at 31, the Dutch winger may have his best days behind him, although his performances at last year’s World Cup would suggest otherwise. With compatriot and former Netherlands boss Louis van Gaal at the helm of United, Robben may be tempted into a reunion with his fellow countryman.
Another Bayern Munich player, Bastain Schweinsteiger, has been continuously linked with a move to van Gaal’s side this summer. It is perhaps more likely that Schweinsteiger and Robben are included in a ‘player + cash’ deal for Di Maria.
Expect to hear more on this in the coming weeks.
Koeman holding out on £25million for Schneiderlin
Southampton manager Ronald Koeman admitted that Morgan Schneiderlin had been subject to a bid from Manchester United – before confirming that the bid had been rejected.
Speaking to BBC Radio Solent, Koeman said “we had a bid from United but it was not the bid we expected."
Koeman went on to state that “if there is no bid to what we expect then he’s a Southampton player. I don’t know if the valuation is exactly £25million, that’s not my business”.
Schneiderlin, who has been at St Mary’s since 2008, was subject to a bid from Tottenham Hotspur last season, which left him feeling “mentally and physically unready to play”. He enjoyed another stellar season last year, which has resulted in Manchester United’s interest, as they look to purchase a ball-playing defensive midfielder to help ease the gradual decline of Michael Carrick.
Southampton could also be set to embark on a legal battle with Spanish club Atletico Madrid, over the purchase of Toby Alderweireld. It is believed that Southampton initiated the £6.8million buy-out clause in the loan contract, although Atletico had agreed an estimated £12million deal with Tottenham Hotspur.
Koeman remarked that "Southampton signed an option for the player and Atletico Madrid is trying to take back the option."
"In our knowledge this was too late and what happened with Tottenham in the middle, I don't know.
Manchester United agree fee for Darmian
Manchester United have reportedly agreed a fee for Torino full-back Matteo Darmian, believed to be worth £12.7million.
Darmian, who impressed for Italy against England in the 2014 World Cup, is capable of playing in both full-back roles, whilst also having experience in central defence. Most significantly is his aerial presence; standing at 6ft, he offers a more reliable presence at set-pieces, an area which was ruthlessly exposed during United’s game against Chelsea, when striker Didier Drogba out-jumped United defender Rafael to score.
Darmian’s imminent arrival looks to have sealed Rafael’s fate, as United are now open to offers. The Brazilian right-back, who only featured 11 times for Louis van Gaal’s side last term, has attracted offers from Napoli and Fiorentina.