Arsenal have been dealt a transfer blow as Real Madrid Rafa Benitez has warned them off Karim Benzema by insisting that the Frenchman is crucial this year.
The Spaniard has revealed that Benzema is a big part of his plans this season and has challenged him to score 25 goals or more in the campaign.
That will come as a blow to Arsene Wenger who had hoped that the idea of switching Gareth Bale into a more central position would have pushed the French striker closer to the exit door.
“Having alternatives in any position always helps,” he told El Pais, as reported by Football Espana.
“Benzema is a great player, and one of my ideas this season is for him to exceed the barrier of 20-25 goals.
“I have a lot of faith in him, and Benzema has enough resources to compete with any other striker.”
Wenger has been criticised for his lack of activity in the transfer market so far, with Petr Cech his only notable arrival so far this summer.
With just two weeks remaining before the window closes, he has been urged by some supporters to act and that means bringing in a world-class striker that can compliment Olivier Giroud.
Benzema had emerged as the priority, but if Benitez plans to hand him a pivotal role in his first season in charge at the Bernabeu, then that could convince the striker to stay put for now.