Arsenal fans have been crying out for a new striker for some time now, and have slammed current first choice forward Olivier Giroud on a number of occasions. Arsenal have recently been linked with a move for Real Madrid front man Karim Benzema, but is he worth the mooted £46million price-tag?
Despite Madrid boss Rafa Benitez insisting that him and Gareth Bale are staying put at the Bernabeau this summer, the links and rumours will surely continue, with the Gunners reportedly willing to pay £46m for the striker. But would the Frenchman be an upgrade on fellow Frenchman Olivier Giroud?
*ALL STATS ARE FROM LEAGUE GAMES ONLY
The duo pretty much matched each other in the goals department last term, Benzema scored fifteen times for the Spanish giants, whilst Olivier Giroud netted fourteen times in an Arsenal shirt. Both players averaged out at 0.52 goals per game.
Benzema outperformed Giroud in terms of assists, but this time a little more convincingly. The Real Madrid man set up ten goals last term compared to Giroud’s three, meaning that Benzema provided an assist once every three games, and Giroud once every nine games.
However, this wasn’t just a case of Benzema’s teammates being more clinical than Giroud’s, the Real Madrid striker created more chances than the Arsenal man. Benzema created 44 chances last season, and if you compare that to Giroud’s 28, then you can work out that the Real Madrid star created 1.52 chances per match, 0.48 per game more than Giroud.
There are however many factors to consider when evaluating whether a deal should be made. ‘Would he adapt to English football?’ to name just one. To be perfectly honest, we will not know the answer until the Frenchman makes a move to the Premier League. We have seen strikers before hit top form in La Liga and struggle to adapt to English football. Take Roberto Soldado at Tottenham for example. But things can go the other way. Diego Costa made his move to Chelsea last summer and has had a highly successful debut season at Stamford Bridge, helping them to the league title. Benzema is an accomplished experienced striker so the odds are in his favour to succeed in England – but nobody can be sure.
The above stats highlight some key areas where Benzema is ahead of Giroud. Firstly, his link up play. Whilst that is a particular strength for Giroud, Benzema is one of the worlds best strikers at this. He makes less passes per game than the Frenchman, but his pass completion (79%) is well ahead of Giroud (68%). His shots are slightly more accurate and crucially, he can beat a player. He averages over 1 successful take on per game, whilst Giroud average 1 successful take every 3 games last season.
Benzema is the perfect all round striker. Whilst he is not as lethal as some, he links up with others, creates chances and would help our midfield score more goals. Wenger has said he wants to see the likes of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Mesut Ozil and Santi Cazorla score more – signing Benzema would certainly help the cause.
The stats in this article have highlighted where Benzema is ahead of Giroud currently. In areas such as aerial duels, Giroud edges it. But overall I think it’s clear that the added quality Benzema would give to the squad would be hugely beneficial. I see Benzema as the perfect blend between when Wenger hoped Welbeck and Giroud could be.