Benatia On Arsenal Radar
Arsenal are being linked with Juventus defender Mehdi Benatia as speculation continues over a defensive overhaul at the Emirates.
Benatia has just come to the end of his second season at Juventus. He spent the 2016-17 campaign on loan from Bayern Munich before the move was made permanent last summer. Juve paid €17million (£14million) for the Morocco international.
But according the Italian website Tuttojuve, Arsenal are being linked with a move for Benatia.
The defender was by no means a first-team regular at Juve last season and is seen largely as a squad member. He made 19 appearances in Serie A, was a substitute in one more game and an unused substitute on no less than 13 occasions.
Juventus will demand around €30million (£26million) for Benatia. But it’s a sign of the changing times at Arsenal that they are even considering a move for a player of Benatia’s age. He turned 31 last month and in Arsene Wenger’s time at the club the fact that he was over 30 would have ruled out any kind of move.
With Sven Mislintat now in charge of player recruitment the club’s policies appear to have been relaxed. Arsenal are already being linked with one player over the age of 30 in the shape of one of Benatia’s team-mates, full-back Stephane Lichtsteiner. The Switzerland international has already been shown round the club’s London Colney training complex and is believed to be close to joining Arsenal on a free transfer.
Arsenal were linked with Benatia as long ago as May 2016 when it appeared obvious that he would be leaving Bayern Munich. In December of last year it was even being suggested that they could offer Juventus as much as £35million.
However, the Gunners will face competition from French side Marseille. The Ligue 1 outfit are also believed to be interested. But Juve’s price tag would have to be lowered for Marseille to have any hope of signing Benatia.
The Moroccan recently spoke warmly of Marseille coach Rudi Garcia. However, he added:
“I still have two years left on my contract,” he said. “My priority is the World Cup. And after that we will see what is better for me and for my club.”