07 August 2015

Odds of Arsenal signing Benzema DOUBLE since Wednesday...signed by Monday?

When we last checked in on the saga, the odds of Arsenal signing Karim Benzema stood at 5/2, suggesting that a bettor could earn £500 on a £200 stake. Not bad. Not bad at all—if you're looking to earn a few quid on something of a long shot. However, if you're a Gooner with a penchant for improving the squad, you'd want to see what we're seeing: a much lower return on one's stake. As it currently stands, the odds of Benzema have doubled, cutting in half one's winnings. At 5/4, you would earn £500 on a £400 stake, something approaching even-money. In other words, at this rate, we'll have signed Benzema by call of business on Friday.

"Gentlemen, this canary died of natural causes."
After all, we've been down this road before with another madridista, Gonzalo Higuaín, leading us to the point that no betting parlour worth its name would accept bets. Of course, trusting them to predict whom we'll sign is akin to trusting a canary to predict when a coal-mine will fill with carbon monoxide, but it's still a interesting if not useful proxy. Sometimes, the canary dies of natural causes instead of inhaling noxious gases.

Along similar lines, the odds of Benzema staying with Real Madrid have dropped by half, from 2/7 on Wednesday to 4/7. Is this a Higuaín redux akin to inhaling those noxious gases, or is the canary actually onto something? There are, after all, persistent rumours to the effect that Benítez wants to more Real Madrid from a 4-3-3 to a 4-2-3-1, with Ronaldo playing through the middle and supported by three midfielders—this would almost certainly relegate Benzema to the bench, playing a much reduced (and perhaps unfamiliar) role.

What it comes down, then, is this: is Benzema a fighter? On one hand, he can accept a reduced role at Real Madrid, a club that can essentially guarantee him silverware at one level or another, be it the Copa del Rey, La Liga, or Champions League. On the other, he could assume the role of lead-striker at Arsenal, a club that hopes to fight for silverware on several levels, with the FA Cup, Prem, and Champions League offered at diminishing levels of likelihood.

What kind of player is Benzema, then? Would he trade a reduced role for guaranteed silverware for an enhanced role for silverware on layaway? That, perhaps more than the financials, is the crux of the matter. I'm not sure he's an out-and-out upgrade on Giroud, not when the two settle for a stalemate when playing for France, but he'd certainly elevate us to the level of legitimate contenders for the Prem.

If he's willing to accept the demotion in silverware in order to achieve a promotion in playing time, then, by all means, make it happen! We don't need a sulking, brooding player who sees his move to Arsenal as diminishing his status. Even if leaving Real Madrid represents a coming down, silverware-wise, we need to know that Benzema is willing to go to war against defenses much-grittier (and gruesome) than those he's seen in La Liga.

If Benzema is serious about actually fighting for and winning silverware, instead of merely hitching a ride, I hope we'll see him in an Arsenal kit in coming weeks. If, however, he only wants another gilt-edged path to glory, well, then, he can sod off.

Karim, it's your call...