Arsenal board target alternative signing after declining Karim Benzema offer | Football

Arsenal were offered Karim Benzema earlier this month (Getty)

Arsenal have been offered the chance to sign Karim Benzema but are instead considering a move for a versatile defender, according to reports.

Benzema is keen to leave Al-Ittihad after spending less than a year in the Saudi Pro League and the striker has been offered to several clubs across Europe.

Arsenal, meanwhile, had made the signing of a new striker one of the priorities for the January transfer window, although their ability to sign their ideal candidate this month has been restricted due to Financial Fair Play concerns.

According to MailOnline, Benzema was offered to Arsenal earlier this month, however, the Gunners are weighing up whether to sign a ‘versatile defender’ before the transfer deadline next Wednesday.

The report adds that Jurrien Timber continues to make positive progress following his cruciate ligament injury in August and Arsenal are hopeful that their £38 million signing from Ajax will be able to feature in the final two months of the campaign.

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta

Mikel Arteta is keen to add a ‘versatile defender’ to his squad this month (AFP via Getty)

Elsewhere, Benzema is understood to be in talks over a return to Lyon.

The 36-year-old came through Lyon’s academy and established himself as one of the best young strikers in Europe at the French club before he joined Real Madrid in 2009.

Benzema had signed a three-year deal worth €100m (£85.5m) per season with Al-Ittihad last June.

Last week, reports in France claimed that the Saudi club were ‘furious’ with Benzema for reporting back to training 17 days late following his holiday in Mauritius.

‘Benzema arrived Thursday evening, 17 days late. He should have returned on January 2,’ the source close to the club told AFP.

‘We couldn’t reach him for 10 days. The club management and the coach are furious with what happened.

‘There will be a meeting with the club board to explain what happened and discuss his future.’

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