Lawrenson: Belgian should be Arsenal's #1 target

Former Liverpool and Republic of Ireland star Mark Lawrenson says Arsenal should make Christian Benteke their #1 target in January.

The current Match of the Day pundit was speaking with the Daily Mirror when he said that Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger should make a move to sign the Aston Villa striker to boost his forward line, despite Olivier Giroud's impressive start to the season.

"Their chief executive, Ivan Gazidis, has made it known that they are looking at signing another striker in January," Lawrenson said.

"If I were Wenger I'd give Aston Villa whatever they want for Christian Benteke. What an option he would give them - particularly with the chances they would create for him. He needn't worry about not getting game-time during the second half of the season in World Cup year. Olivier Giroud can't possibly play every game with Arsenal fighting for silverware on several fronts.

"Benteke would share the load, bully defences and give the Gunners the depth up front that they need."

Gazidis' comments on signing a new striker to support Olivier Giroud over the weekend have fuelled even more rumours of a new forward arriving at the Emirates Stadium, with Diego Costa, Karim Benzema and Jackson Martinez all strongly linked with moves to North London. Belgian international star Benteke would surely be open to a move though, having handed in a transfer request over the summer, though he seemed to patch up his differences with Paul Lambert shortly after.

The rumoured fee for Benteke would be around £25m, which would mean Wenger once again spending big after the £42.5m capture of playmaker Mesut Ozil, but as one of the top strikers in England, Benteke would be worth every penny. He almost single-handedly kept Villa in the Premier League last season with 19 goals in his first year, and the 22 year old has continued that form into this season, including at international level. With Arsenal harbouring very real ambitions of a title challenge, more firepower is needed, and Benteke could be the perfect player to give it them.

Arsenal's local rivals Tottenham are also rumoured to be sniffing around Benteke, with Roberto Soldado struggling to find the net, but with Arsenal still top of the league despite their 1-0 defeat at Manchester United on Sunday, the Gunners may be a more attractive proposition for an ambitious young player like Benteke.

image: © little-pete

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