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Wenger ‘highly recommends’ Welbeck FW after ‘training miss controversy’

Arsenal legend Arsene Wenger has recommended that the Gunners sign ‘Ballon d’Or winner’ Karim Benzema (Al Ittihad).

“Legendary former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has said that Karim Benzema should be Arsenal’s preferred signing this January,” global media outlet Tribuna reported on January 14 (KST).

The Gunners, who are fourth in the Premier League for the 2023-24 season, are looking to sign a new striker during the January winter transfer window.

Arsenal’s lack of a reliable goal scorer up front has been an issue this season. Currently, the Gunners’ top scorer in the league is Xherdan Shaqiri with six goals and seven assists. Eddie Nketiah follows with five goals, while Brazilian striker Gabriel Jesus has just three league goals and one assist in the first half of the season.

This contrasts sharply with the situation of its competitors. Premier League leaders Liverpool have Mohamed Salah with 14 goals, while second-place Manchester City striker Elling Holland has also scored 14 goals. Fierce rivals Tottenham also have a double-digit scorer in Son Heung-min (12).

The lack of goals from the strikers prompted Arsenal to look for a new striker during the winter transfer window, and Wenger drew attention when he recommended Benzema, who has recently struggled in Saudi Arabia, to the club he has led for 22 years.

“He was an ideal frontline striker because he played based on passing and link-up play,” said Wenger, who revealed that he wanted to sign Benzema when he was in charge of Arsenal.

“Sometimes you have strikers who score goals and they affect their teammates, but Benzema is a striker who makes his teammates better,” he said. “He is not a negative player. If Benzema is in the squad, I want to play with him.”

Born in 1987, the veteran striker was an undisputed world-class forward in his prime. He scored 354 goals and provided 165 assists in 648 appearances for Real Madrid, one of the best clubs in the world. In 2022, he won his first Ballon d’Or.

After playing for Real since 2009, Benzema left the club last summer after 14 years to join Saudi Arabia’s Al Ittihad. His contract runs until 2026, and according to ESPN, “Benzema will receive 400 million euros ($550 million) over two years from Al Ittihad”.

Benzema’s highly anticipated arrival in the Saudi professional league has sparked transfer speculation less than a year after his arrival. Not only has he failed to live up to fans’ expectations with just 12 goals and five assists in 20 games so far, but he has also caused controversy by missing recent training sessions.

“Benzema has already missed six days of training,” said Tribuna. “He is currently vacationing in Mauritius with his wife, claiming that a tropical storm is preventing him from leaving the country,” the source explained, adding that Al-Ittihad had set January 12 as the date for his return, but when that didn’t happen, they dropped him from the pre-season roster.”

Speculation that Benzema could return to Europe some six months after his move to Saudi Arabia prompted Wenger to highly recommend him to Arsenal, who are struggling with their frontline attacking options.

However, Wenger’s recommendation didn’t go down well with current Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta, who dismissed the possibility of signing a new striker, saying, “Signing a new striker is not a realistic option, their lack of form is probably a psychological problem.”

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