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Benzema close Arsenal switch

By The Rainbow
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With Chelsea issuing a come-and-get-us plea through transfer market inactivity, the Premier League title appears to be up for grabs. To this point, however, none of the other contenders seem to be capitalizing.

But the seismic summer signing may be approaching. And Arsenal looks to be the epicenter.

Reports are flying that Arsenal is nearing a big-money deal for Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema , and regardless of what Benzema has told the Spanish giants or where Arsenal's higher-ups are at the moment, there definitely seem to be legs to this story.

The calls have been long and loud for Arsenal to sign an out-and-out goal scorer, and manager Arsene Wenger has tried to do so ever since Robin Van Persie left in 2012. Landing a striker of Benzema's caliber would not only give the Gunners a realistic shot of reclaiming the Premier League crown, it would also hand the club a legitimate chance to win the Champions League for the first time.

Arsenal's activity in the transfer market has been limited, but the lone first-team signing, goalkeeper Petr Cech , has already fortified the back and drawn rave reviews. Adding Benzema would sound a clear warning that after years of frugality and stubbornness, Arsenal is a true powerhouse club once again.

During his six seasons in the Spanish capital, Benzema has won pretty much every trophy available, and his goal totals would have cracked the top four in the Premier League in each of the last five seasons. La Liga lends itself to gaudy statistics with a top-heavy table and a more open style of play, but Benzema still offers a perfect complement to Arsenal's armada of technically proficient attackers. Still only 27 years old, he's a terrific finisher who's strong enough to handle the physical rigors of the Premier League.

The move makes sense for Benzema apart from the pitch, too. Under Wenger, Arsenal has a long tradition of developing and catering to French stars, and Benzema could jump out of Cristiano Ronaldo 's shadow and become the marquee attraction at one of the game's marquee clubs.

So far during this transfer window, other top clubs have tried to strengthen with varying results. Manchester City splashed a record £49 million on Raheem Sterling , but there's no guarantee the 20-year-old will live up to considerable expectations, and City could have serious issues defensively. Manchester United , meanwhile, snared quality players like Morgan Schneiderlin , Bastian Schweinsteiger and Memphis Depay , but that type of spending is still very new to the club and roster upheaval rarely translates into immediate success.

Benzema would be more than just a tweak to Arsenal's squad, or a stylish signing of questionable substance. He would be the final piece of a puzzle that Wenger and the Arsenal brass have been putting together for years.

Through judicious spending and player development, Wenger has built a squad robust with depth, lavished with versatility and seasoned with back-to-back FA Cups and shared grinds through the Premier League schedule. It can pass, possess, defend, win pretty, and win ugly. As of now, it can't steamroll opponents through sheer firepower.

Benzema would change that. He would change a lot of things in England.

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