Real Madrid are contemplating a move for Luis Suárez – but only if Arsenal target Karim Benzema leaves the club.
Brendan Rodgers said on Thursday that Liverpool were preparing themselves for a bid from Madrid for Suárez, in what was interpreted in Spain as potentially an invitation for Madrid to make an offer, despite his claim that the Uruguayan is still not for sale.
Meanwhile, Arsenal have briefed that they are considering a £46m bid for Benzema, and the Guardian understands they have made an inquiry about the 25-year-old France international.
That has led Madrid to consider pursuing a complex operation in which they would sell Benzema and use the money to sign Suárez, effectively swapping one striker for the other.
Suárez had come to accept that he would not be able to leave Anfield but the comments by the Liverpool manager – despite Rodgers last week saying he would no longer talk about the Uruguayan – may hint at a shift in position. Certainly, that is the way Madrid have read it. There has not been recent contact between Madrid and Suárez but the 26-year-old striker publicly admitted earlier in the summer that he would welcome a move to the Bernabéu.
It would not be an easy operation to conclude, however. A number of pieces would have to be in place for it to go ahead and Madrid are aware of the complexity of achieving that.
Liverpool's official line remains that they will not sell and changing that will undoubtedly prove costly, although an approach from Madrid would be more welcome than one from an English club – and certainly more than the provocative £40,000,001 bid tabled by Arsenal. Madrid would also make a bigger offer than Arsenal's.
Another key obstacle is that Benzema has no intention of leaving Madrid. He has had no indication yet from the club that they are prepared to sell him, either.
Benzema is widely considered to be a favourite of the president, Florentino Pérez, who personally travelled to the striker's home in Lyon to sign him. This summer, Madrid have already sold one striker, Gonzalo Higuaín, to Napoli. But patience has worn a little thin with Benzema and if Madrid can raise sufficient money from the sale to sign a replacement, and lose little or no money on the deal, then a move would be sanctioned.
The operation would then hinge on Benzema's willingness to depart or Madrid's ability to persuade him to do so.