By Wayne Veysey | Chief Correspondent
Arsenal have opened preliminary talks with Real Madrid over a £26 million deal for Angel Di Maria but must play a waiting game for Karim Benzema as the Spanish giants consider a late-window move for Luis Suarez, Goal has learned.
Madrid have indicated in early discussions with the Gunners that they are willing to off-load Di Maria, the Argentinian winger, as they prepare to announce the world-record signing of Gareth Bale.
|'AN ARSENAL STAR IN THE MAKING'
|Miguel Churruca | Goal Spain
"Despite his stunning arrival to the Bernabeu, Di Maria has never felt the starting player he was supposed to be. Too many big-name stars in his position, a couple of long injuries and the irregular form he has shown in the last two seasons have put him on the Madrid departures list.
"Predominantly a left winger, the Argentina international has fantastic dribbling ability but Real's deals for Isco and, moreover, the imminent arrival of Gareth Bale, have opened the door to an exit.
"If he does join Arsenal, Di Maria would undoubtedly take a leading role in Wenger’s side, with the potential to play on both wings in support of Olivier Giroud."
Liverpool fear that Real are willing to make a bid for wantaway forward Suarez, who has spoken publicly this summer of his desire to move to the Bernabeu.
Although the Merseysiders remain resolute in their determination not to let the Uruguayan depart in this window, it would be regarded as more palatable for the club’s supporters to sell the 26-year-old overseas than to an immediate rival like Arsenal.
The chain of transfers involving the elite clubs will determine Arsene Wenger’s chances of landing one or both of Di Maria and Benzema.
Given that there are only 10 days left in the window, Arsenal’s hopes of landing the France international in particular look slim – Benzema is Real’s only senior centre forward following Gonzalo Higuain’s sale to Napoli earlier this summer – but the move for Di Maria is believed to be more advanced.
Wenger's audacious approach for the attacking pair comes in a week in which Arsenal have made a series of shock moves for players who were not on their target list earlier in the window.
As reported by Goal, the Londoners made bids for Newcastle midfielder Yohan Cabaye and Schalke right-back Atsuto Uchida on Monday, and also made an enquiry for Sevilla midfielder Geoffrey Kondogbia.
Wenger also has his eye on Stoke City goalkeeper Asmir Begovic and is weighing up a short-term contract offer for former Gunner Mathieu Flamini, who is training at London Colney after being released by AC Milan.
It is the search for marquee attacking talent that is Wenger's chief priority as he attempts to make use of the £100m transfer kitty at his disposal and turn Arsenal into genuine title contenders.
The Frenchman has turned his attention to Spain after becoming aware of Bale's impending move to Real, a deal that is expected to be completed for around £86m by the end of the week.
The Gunners have still not given up hope of landing Suarez, while they are also continuing to monitor the situation of Wayne Rooney, who is being openly pursued by Chelsea.
Manager Brendan Rodgers admitted on Thursday that a bid this late in the window for Suarez "would be very difficult [to accept]", adding: "There might have been a point a few months ago where there was time to do it but, with 11 days to go, it would be difficult to replace him."
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