Karim Benzema has revealed that he was never close to leaving Real Madrid this summer and wanted to continue in what he claimed to be the best club in the world. The striker was linked with a move to Arsenal and Manchester United, with the Gunners believed to be favourites for his signature.
Arsenal had reportedly made the Frenchman their top target for the summer, but failed to reach an agreement with Real, who had reportedly valued the striker at £45m ($68m), according to the Daily Mail. Real president Florentino Perez had confirmed that United were also interested in the player but the Spanish giants refused to sell any of their prized assets this summer, as they look to challenge for the La Liga title and progress farther in the Champions League.
Benzema missed a major part of the pre-season with injury and his absence exacerbated rumours of a possible departure from the club, which has been vehemently denied by the 28-year-old. The striker scored in Real's 5-0 win over Real Betis before the international break and is currently on duty with the French national team.
"There was nothing in the talk of a transfer away from Madrid," Benzema told Telefoot, as quoted by the Daily Mail. "I'm happy at my current club, it's the best in the world. I'll continue to work here and be happy where I am."
The Gunners were the only team across Europe's top five leagues to have not signed an outfield player this summer, with their only acquisition being that of Petr Cech from Chelsea. The Czech Republic international started the season with two major bloopers against West Ham, which cost the Gunners the game but redeemed himself with an exquisite performance against Liverpool, where he saved two close range shots from Christian Benteke and Philippe Countinho to earn the north London club a point.
However, Welbeck's injury, that has threatened to rule him out for six months will be a major blow for Wenger and further amplify his failure in signing a striker this summer. The Gunners have managed only three goals thus far in the league, with two coming in the form of own goals.