Arsene Wenger to make £35m bid for Karim Benzema with Theo Walcott set to stay
Arsène Wenger, the Arsenal manager, is understood to be ready to table an increased bid for Karim Benzema, the Real Madrid striker, after an initial offer of £31 million was rejected.
A report on Spanish website Fichajes claims that Wenger is prepared to offer the Santiago Bernabéu chiefs around £35m for the France international.
The report adds that Benzema, 27, is unhappy at the Santiago Bernabéu and would be willing to consider a move to the Premier League.
Arsenal director Lord Harris this week said that Wenger wants a striker and has identified his top target – believed to be Benzema – but that the deal is dependent on the selling club sourcing a “superstar” replacement.
Wenger tried previously to sign Benzema from Real Madrid in 2013 and, when asked last week about the France international, did not rule out his future arrival.
He said simply that nothing was happening “at the moment”.
In the Fichajes report it is claimed that Real Madrid have already identified Marco Reus, the Borussia Dortmund striker, as a possible replacement for Benzema and any fee from Arsenal would go towards funding the bid for the German.
Meanwhile, Liverpool are set to be handed a blow after reports claim that Theo Walcott, the England forward, is close to signing a new four-year deal at Arsenal.
The Merseysiders had hoped to sign Walcott, 26, who has spent much of the summer in talks with the north London club's hierarchy about his future.
However, a report in the Sunday Mirror says the two parties have agreed a deal to keep Walcott at the club until 2019 while his new salary is understood to be worth around £100,000 a week which will make him one of the club’s highest earners.
While the player and club have yet to officially seal the deal, it is understood that the new contract will be signed before Arsenal's opening game of the Premier League season, at home to West Ham United.
Finally, Arsenal have been told on in no uncertain terms that Alexandre Lacazette, the Lyon striker, will not be making a summer switch to the Emirates.
Arsenal and Chelsea had considered adding the striker, who scored 31 goals in 38 games for the Ligue 1 side last season, to their respective squads during the transfer window, but that now appears an impossible task.
"He is under contract at Lyon and, with all of the different competitions we have this season with the Champions League and the domestic French cups, we obviously want to keep him at the club," Hubert Fournier, the Lyon manager said.
"He has said he wants to stay with us,” Fournier added. “Of course some clubs are going to be attracted to the sort of player he is."
Lacazette, meanwhile, echoed his manager's comments by adding: "I have shown that I'm fully committed. It's football that interests me, not money. I hope to have a strong season."