By Jamie Sanderson
Chelsea have told London rivals Arsenal they want a decision by the end of the week on whether they plan to sign on-loan winger Yossi Benayoun on a permanent basis.
Benayoun is poised to return to the Blues at the start of next season having spent 12 months on loan at the Emirates, in which he scored six goals in 25 appearances, following a switch across the capital on transfer deadline day.
The 32-year-old completed the campaign with a regular run in the Arsenal side, starting the final three matches and scoring twice as the Gunners secured Champions League football for next season with a third place finish.
However, despite proving himself as a versatile and reliable option, manager Arsene Wenger is undecided on whether he will keep the attacker, who rejected a return to former club Liverpool to move to the Emirates last August.
Chelsea were left disappointed that day, as they had originally agreed to offload the Israel captain to the Gunners for a nominal fee, only for Wenger to back track, and eventually settle on a season-long loan.
The Blues, fresh from winning the Champions League last weekend, have already told Benayoun he can leave this summer, and want Arsenal to decide this week if they will sign him on a permanent basis, or Chelsea will seek an alternative buyer.
Benayoun has revealed to Arsenal officials that he would be happy to stay at the club, but on the pretence that he is offered a 2-year-contract, something Wenger is unlikely to do, given the players age.
Ajax and newly promoted West Ham have both been suggested as alternative destinations, but speculation is rife in Israel that Maccabi Haifa will make a bid to tempt their prodigal son back to his homeland.
Chelsea are expected to accept offers in the region of £1 million for Benayoun.
Elsewhere, Arsenal are facing another uncertain summer with Danish striker Nicklas Bendtner, after Sunderland informed them over the weekend they will not be pursuing a permanent deal.
Bendtner, who played 27 times for the Black Cats on-loan last season, has told Arsenal he still plans to quit the club, but will delay sorting out his future until after Euro 2012.