Chelsea and Arsenal dealt suckerpunch by £112m 'force of nature' - must turn to Benzema deal

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Chelsea and Arsenal have now faced rejection from Ivan Toney and Victor Osimhen this transfer window.

Chelsea and Arsenal striker target Victor Osimhen has delivered a sucker-punch blow to rumours of a bumper January move while on international duty for Nigeria at the Africa Cup of Nations.

The 24-year-old has been touted as the goal source that both the London clubs lack in their squads this season. Osimhen won't come cheap with a release clause of around £112 million, but that hasn't stopped outlets from reporting that a big January move could be on the cards for a player that the Italian press has hailed as a 'force of nature'.

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However, the striker has delivered a blow to Mikel Arteta and Mauricio Pochettino himself. The Napoli star, who recently signed a contract extension until 2026 with the Serie A club, was asked about his future after Nigeria's opening AFCON match against Equatorial Guinea.

Osimhen scored in that game, which finished 1-1,  and was quizzed on his desire to play in the Premier League afterwards. He replied: “Of course one day, definitely, but for now I have other plans in my career I am looking forward to. When the time comes, everyone will know.

“I am happy with the president. I have a good relationship with him, I cannot lie, he has been with me since I signed for the club in 2020. I have a good relationship with his family also. It is always important for me to make sure there is nothing wrong, regardless of what has happened, with the relationship with him and his family.

“He has been supportive of me outside the pitch and of course I give my all trying to win the Scudetto with them.”

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Osimhen's words appear to end the idea that he could be on the move this January, with a summer transfer perhaps more likely. It's a blow for Arsenal and Chelsea in their pursuit of a striker, with Brentford star Ivan Toney last week also ending immediate interest by committing to the Bees until the end of the season.

Mauricio Pochettino's Chelsea had been linked with a move for Victor Osimhen. (Image: Getty Images)Mauricio Pochettino's Chelsea had been linked with a move for Victor Osimhen. (Image: Getty Images)
Mauricio Pochettino's Chelsea had been linked with a move for Victor Osimhen. (Image: Getty Images) | Getty Images

The two Premier League sides will have to look elsewhere and scout out more financially viable alternatives, such as a loan deal for Ballon d'Or winner Karim Benzema. Chelsea have been newly linked with a surprise move for the former Real Madrid talisman, who now plays his football at Al-Ittihad.

There have been murmurs of discontent surrounding Benzema, with the Saudi club needing to resolve the situation this week.

Ornstein said: “Karim Benzema, to my understanding, is going to be staying in the Saudi Pro League. That’s the intention of the competition and that extends to his club Al-Ittihad despite there clearly being a bit of an issue going on right now and suggestions that he’s not turning up for training camps, etc. I’m told that he will be reintegrated into training, the meetings will be taking place, I think there are some planned in Dubai for later this week and they’ll try and smooth that situation over.”

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