Real to offer Gunners Benzema swap for Clichy
Published 23:00 15/12/10 By Martin Lipton
Real Madrid are poised to test Arsenal's resolve to keep Gael Clichy by offering France striker Karim Benzema in a swap deal for the full-back.
Benzema, a £30million signing from Lyons in 2009, has fallen out with Jose Mourinho at the Bernabeu this season, making just three La Liga starts with the Portuguese preferring Argentina's Gonzalo Higuain as his main striker.
That lack of game-time has seen the striker, who netted against England at Wembley last month, scoring just one in the league, although he claimed a Champions League hat-trick against Auxerre a week ago when Higuain was missing through injury.
While the 23-year-old has not agitated for a move, Real President Florentino Perez is ready to cut his losses if he can help Mourinho improve his squad and with Spurs insisting Gareth Bale is out of reach Clichy has emerged as the next target for the Madrid giants.
Mourinho is seeking an alternative to current left back, Brazilian Marcelo, and suggested Clichy might be the answer during the summer, only for the putative move to stall.
But Mourinho's hand has been strengthened by his start to life in Madrid, with the only defeat that infamous 5-0 mauling in Barcelona at the end of last month, and is now pressing for transfer action during the winter window.
The French defender has had a less than stellar season for Arsene Wenger's side, with many fans calling for him to be dropped in favour of England new-boy Kieran Gibbs.
Juventus are also interested in luring Benzema to Italy but the prospect of working with fellow countryman Wenger, and joining the likes of Samir Nasri, Alex Song, Bacary Sagna and Abou Diaby in the Arsenal dressing room, could appeal more to the striker.
Wenger, who knows Benzema and his game inside out, will remember the manner of his transformation of Thierry Henry's career and the success of other French players including Patrick Vieira and Sylvain Wiltord.
Arsenal are thought to value Clichy in the £20million bracket but if Real are doing the chasing would be able to force the deal through on their terms if Wenger feels the left-back - who joined the Gunners from Cannes for a nominal fee as an 18-year-old in 2003 - is expendable.