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Transfer Rumor: Karim Benzema loan to Arsenal?

Filed under: unlikely.

Al-Ittihad v Al-Nassr - Saudi Pro League Photo by Yasser Bakhsh/Getty Images

One of Arsene Wenger’s white whales may be approaching capture, if transfer rumors are to be believed — Karim Benzema has been linked with a loan to Arsenal. The striker’s big-money move to Saudi Arabia has not worked out: Benzema has clashed with managers, not shown up for training, and been left off his side’s mid-season training trip. He reportedly wants a move back to the continent.

The problem (well, one of many) is that he’s only scored 9 goals in 15 appearances for an Al-Ittihad side well off the pace in the Saudi table. He’s 36 years old. He might be cooked at the highest level of play. It didn’t look that way from his performances last season for Real Madrid, but age catches up with you quickly. Given the level of competition in the Saudi League and that he hasn’t been showing up for training for several weeks, you also have to question his current fitness levels.

There is also the question of finances. Benzema is reportedly on an £86M per year deal, which is about £1.6M per week in wages. Obviously Arsenal cannot come close to paying that. That’s before whatever loan fee Al-Ittihad would demand and whatever the accounting would be for the €20M bonus Benzema received for becoming an ambassador for the 2030 World Cup. Unlike transfer costs which can be amortized over five years, loan costs hit the books immediately. With Arsenal reportedly toeing the line on FFP and Premier League Profit & Sustainability regulations, it’s hard to see how the club could make the money work.

It’s not a surprise that Benzema is being linked with a move away from the Saudi League. That seems to be the trend for several of the big name players who chased a massive payday over the past few windows only to discover that the money-green grass is a spray-painted illusion.

Most recently, it was Jordan Henderson heading to Ajax after rumors that he was displeased with the quality of the football. As an aside, Henderson deferred all of his significant salary for tax purposes, and with the contract termination and move, it’s unclear whether he’ll see any of that money.

There was a time when Karim Benzema was arguably the best striker in Europe. The prospect of that player moving to Arsenal would have been incredibly exciting. But he’s not that player anymore. The question is how much juice, if any, does he have left and is it enough to make a difference for Arsenal down the stretch. Even if you get satisfactory answers to those questions, you’ve got a formidable challenge to make the money work.

Karim Benzema to Arsenal ain’t gonna happen.