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Arsenal's Arsene Wenger 'likes' Arturo Vidal; coy on Karim Benzema rumours

Arsene Wenger has admitted his appreciation of Arturo Vidal, but says he is "not in transfer mode" amid speculation linking both the Juventus midfielder and Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema with summer transfers to Arsenal.

Vidal, 28, was the subject of interest from Manchester United last summer, but stayed with Juventus to lead the Bianconeri to a fourth straight Serie A title with the possibility of a Treble still on the cards.

The Chile international has since been linked with a switch to North London, while Wenger is reportedly considering a £35 million bid for French forward Benzema -- who is also linked with Manchester United.

While Wenger did not deny the appeal of Vidal, the 65-year-old coach says he is focusing on Arsenal's upcoming FA Cup final against Aston Villa on Saturday before switching his attentions to any potential new additions.

On his reported interest in Benzema, Wenger told a news conference on Wednesday: "You can suspect that at the moment I am not in a transfer mode. We'll deal with the transfers after the FA Cup final. It's all suspicions. Does anybody know if that's true or not? I don't know."

Regarding Vidal, he said: "If I tell you I like him, you will announce the transfer just after that. If you want me to say I like Arturo Vidal, yes I like Arturo Vidal. Are we in a transfer mode? I say, no."

Arsenal's Premier League rivals Manchester United were heavily linked with a move for Vidal last summer, but a move never materialised.

The midfielder underwent knee surgery in April 2014 to be back for the World Cup last summer, and though he admitted last month that the operation may have had repercussions, he insists he has no regrets.

Arturo Vidal has been an integral figure for Juventus this season.

Meanwhile, the Guardian reports that United and Arsenal may go head-to-head for the signature of Benzema. The France international signed a new five-year deal at the Bernabeu last summer, but Real may be planning a summer rebuild having sacked coach Carlo Ancelotti on Monday.

Wenger said earlier in May that Arsenal legend Thierry Henry was "wrong" to claim the club need four new players and cannot win the title with Olivier Giroud leading the line.

The French coach on Wednesday reiterated he has a large squad of players to choose from, saying: "We have a big squad. When you think I have some big selection decisions to make [for the cup final]. Even to leave some top internationals out of the squad shows that we have a very big squad."

The Gunners finished third to achieve automatic qualification for next season's Champions League, while they can retain the FA Cup by beating Villa.

Asked whether that would represent progress for the season, he added: "We think so. But we have been regularly consistent. We had a slow start this season and I feel the team has made progress through the season.

"It's not easy to get to the FA Cup final and it's not easy to finish in the top three in England. We have been remarkably consistent since January and that's why I think we have a good chance next season."


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