Gael Clichy has drawn a lot of criticism for his rather ordinary performance against Manchester United with Arsenal legend Lee Dixon saying that he has not progressed enough for the Gunners. He is a quality player and at the moment, it does seem that he does lack the confidence to be at his best. The French International is in the process of negotiating his contract which runs out in 2012 and is attracting the interest of European giants Real Madrid.
There was supposed interest from Spanish giants Barcelona on acquiring Clichy in the summer; however, they signed Adriano putting an end to the rumours linking Clichy. However in recent days leading to the January transfer window, there have been reports linking their Spanish rivals Real Madrid with the left back.
Arsenal are estimated to value Gael Clichy in the range of £15-20 million and will try to get the best value for the last remaining "Invincible." Real Madrid are reported to offer Karim Benzema to the Gunners as a part of the swap deal to tempt the Gunners to accept the offer.
In my opinion, both the clubs have high aspirations for the Champions League and having qualified for the knock-out phases, they would look to utilise the best opportunities. Gael Clichy and Karim Benzema have both played a role for their respective clubs and so a January transfer is ruled out in my opinion.
However, a summer transfer is still very probable considering that if Clichy does not sign till the end of the season, then Wenger might look to cash in on the French International.
The Present Scenario of Gael Clichy
Clichy has come under immense scrutiny after his errors in this season and with the steady emergence of Kieran Gibbs, it does look like Clichy might have to move on in the future to accommodate the young Englishman. Gael Clichy might be lured by the prospect of playing in Spain for one of the biggest clubs in the world in Real Madrid and might move on to undertake different challenges.
Kieran Gibbs has suffered numerous injuries this season and missed a large portion of the last season due to a long term injury. He is a youngster of immense potential but his injury troubles means that it might be a gamble by Wenger to sell Clichy.
Arsene Wenger shares an excellent relationship with Clichy and could convince him that he has a bright future at the Emirates which could result in him signing a new deal by the end of the summer.
The Present Scenario of Karim Benzema
Real Madrid welcomed the arrival of Jose Mourinho in the summer and the Portuguese tactician brought a number of youngsters to the Bernabeu. However, Benzema has not endured a good period in his reign so far and has been benched for a large part of the season, so far. He was signed for £30 million last summer but has failed to produce his best form and with limited opportunities, he does not have enough confidence at the moment.
Arsene Wenger will understand the French Striker's talent and has an excellent record of harnessing the potential of many young players. Benzama is a player of undoubted potential but has suffered due to the high profile move to Madrid which has put him under immense pressure.
There are a number of transfer reports linking Real Madrid with many prolific strikers like Edin Dzeko, Carlos Tevez and Diego Milito. With the injury to Argentine striker Gonzalo Higuain and Mourinho's lack of confidence in Benzema, there is an excellent probability that a new striker might arrive in January.
If that is the case, Karim Benzema who is already not enjoying a good period with the Los Mernegues might look to move on if he does get the chance. Juventus have offered the escape route for him but he might be tempted by the possibility to play for Arsenal considering his excellent rapport with his French teammates Samir Nasri, Bacary Sagna and Abou Diaby.
Arsenal's Advantages in Signing Karim Benzema
The Gunners signed the Moroccan International Marouane Chamakh to give them an extra dimension in attack and he has had a good start to the season. He has been very impressive with his work rate and has already scored 10 goals in the seaosn. However, he is not a prolific goalscorer and is not very clinical when it comes to finishing with his feet.
Since the departure of Thierry Henry, Arsenal have not had a striker who could notch around 25 goals in a season, which has contributed greatly to their title drought. Robin van Persie has the ability to score goals consistently but has never been able to avoid getting injured over the course of the season which has left Arsenal struggling in the past.
Henry was struggling for Juventus after he moved from Monaco but under Wenger, he found his confidence and went on to become arguably the greatest striker for Arsenal. Benzema's case is not too different; he scored 55 goals in two seasons at Lyon but has been unable to produce the same form at Madrid. Wenger is known for resurrecting careers of players with immense potential and it is a gamble worth taking.
Arsenal's Disadvantages in the Deal Involving the Departure of Gael Clichy
Gael Clichy is the longest serving player at Arsenal at present and has immense experience after playing in the first team regularly over the years. Though Clichy does make the odd error, he is a quality left back and provides a lot of stability to the team. Arsenal have not had a stable defence for some time now and replacing Clichy with Gibbs will be a risk to say the least.
Kieran Gibbs is quite prone to injuries and Arsenal might suffer if he cannot keep himself fit for most part of the season. Also, if Clichy does leave, then Arsenal will have no experienced alternatives other than Gibbs and the lack of competition might not produce the best from the Englishman.
Armand Traore who is currently on loan at Juventus will be expected to be the second choice Left Back while Thomas Cruise could be a surprise retention in the squad to be the third choice left back.
For a defence which has leaked a number of goals in the recent few years, letting one of the most experienced players forming the backline is a risky decision. However, Wenger should decide when it is time for Gibbs to take over from Clichy as the Englishman needs to be playing regularly in the future.
The Nicklas Bendtner Situation
Nicklas Bendtner has voiced out against being regularly amongst the Arsenal substitutes and wants to play regularly. However, with Robin van Persie and Marouane Chamakh ahead of him in the pecking order, he has endured plenty of frustration being on the bench coupled with lot of injuries he has suffered in this season.
Bendtner has been with Arsenal from a very young age and Wenger has high hopes for the Denmark International. The Dane showcased in the latter stages of the last season that he is capable of leading the line in the future, but his development has been hampered by injuries and lack of playing time. He is also not a clinical finisher and has squandered numerous opportunities in the past.
Bendtner has been linked with Bayern Munich and Ajax, who could lose their start striker Luis Suarez in the future to bigger European clubs. Arsenal value him at around £10-15 million and could allow the striker to leave if he wants a move away from the Emirates as his lack of playing time could even cost him a place in the National team.
Analysis of the Deal
If the deal does go through in the future, then it is certain that Arsene Wenger will allow one of his strikers to leave which will probably be Nicklas Bendtner. If that is the case, it could be Karim Benzema who will be the third striker at Arsenal with Gibbs taking over as the first choice Left Back with Armand Traore his deputy.
Arsene Wenger does not spend too much on a transfer and that will be the case in this deal too. He will have to pay around £6-8 million in addition to Gael Clichy going the other way in order to secure the services of Karim Benzema. He can recoup the money spent by the transfer of Bendtner who is sure to fetch a minimum of around £10 million.
If Real Madrid do offer the deal to Arsenal, then Arsene Wenger should analyse this deal because it could be profitable for the Gunners in terms of acquiring the players who could win titles for the team. He must also decide whether Kieran Gibbs is ready to step into the first team on a regular basis and if the team can cope with the loss of Clichy to Real Madrid.