Wenger singles out £30m target when previewing France at World Cup

Emirates Inside

Real Madrid star striker attracts Arsenal manager's attention, could be the key man in Brazil, and is a long-running Gunners target.

"France have a 99% chance of qualifying [from their World Cup group]," said Arsene Wenger, as quoted by Eurosport.

Les Bleus share Group E with Honduras, Switzerland and Ecuador and are widely tipped to progress into the knockout stages as they possess a squad enriched with elite-level talent from some of Europe's most powerful clubs including Paris Saint-Germain, Manchester United, Arsenal, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and Juventus.

"If they are suicidal they won’t make it, but otherwise they would really have to be lacking in mental strength if they are to fail to qualify," the Gunners boss added, before claiming that those very same talents would make it "hard to explain [failure]."

However, the only two players he singled out specifically was third-placed Ballon d'Or athlete Franck Ribery and Real star striker Karim Benzema, who has been linked with a move to Arsenal for over 12 months and could secure a switch this summer in a £30 million deal, as Madrid look to recruit a marquee name like Luis Suarez or Sergio Aguero.

"We will qualify for the second stage. Afterwards, it’s harder to foresee what’s going to happen for us. But I think that this time, we will see a group creating a very nice surprise," Wenger said, continuing to assess his nation's chances.

"I am very optimistic, because we have had a long road; we have qualified for the World Cup thanks to a very special match against Ukraine in the play-offs.

"This time, we are not the favourites. But, on the other hand, if you’d ask me who the favourites of this World Cup are, I wouldn’t really know. In this World Cup, every team can have their chance, and so does France.

Wenger warned the French that they must keep themselves busy, in order to ward off boredom and to retain their focus: "I have a lot of players in a lot of teams, and often some of them call me during the World Cup to tell me how hard it is.

"It’s long, especially if some players are preparing themselves, but are not playing. Players are not used to these rhythms anymore."

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