Rio Ferdinand has explained how Sir Alex Ferguson failed to sign Lyon’s Karim Benzema for Manchester United in the summer of 2009 before he became a Real Madrid legend
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Benzema was in the headlines again on Tuesday night after scoring the winning goal real Madrid in one dramatic 5:4 overall victory over Chelsea in the quarterfinals of Champions League. The veteran striker headed in a Vinicius Junior cross in extra time to seal the win for the home side, who were trailing 3-0 that night.
It was his 38th goal of the season for Real, his 83rd in the Champions League overall and 317th in 597 appearances for the club he joined from Lyon in the summer of 2009. Benzema is currently in the form of his life for Real – but his career could have been very different.
Ferdinand played for Lyon as a 21-year-old forward against the France international and says the game nearly resulted in a move to Old Trafford. But despite United having made a formal offer for him, Benzema opted for Real Madrid.
“The first time I played him was in 2008 and that was the first time I saw him up close and personal,” Ferdinand told BT Sport. “When you see the goal he scored against us you look how many players are around him but all he needed was a touch, it was all a movement.
“I remember coming off the pitch and Sir Alex Ferguson said: ‘Don’t worry, I’m trying to get him’. But with his African connections and the influence of Real Madrid, he chose them. I think Looking back, Sir Alex will believe that one of his biggest regrets is not getting him to sign for the club.”
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Real Madrid paid a fee in the region of £25million for Benzema. According to Lyon owner and president Jean-Michel Aulas, United did in fact offer a better financial package but Benzema was determined to move to Madrid and not Manchester.
“When Karim was asked to leave Lyon, we had two offers: Manchester United and Real Madrid,” he told beIN Sports in 2019. “Karim, like Nabil Fekir, came to me and there are relationships that show trust and he told me, ‘My dream is to play for Real Madrid’. And so he went to Real Madrid for a lower fee than we had from Manchester United.”
Ferguson was keen on pairing Benzema with him Wayne Rooney in the storm, but it wasn’t supposed to be in the summer of 2009. United eventually signed Michael Owen on a free transfer, while Mame Biram Diouf, Antonio Valencia and Gabriel Obertan also came through the door ahead of the 2009/10 season.
https://www.mirror.co.uk/sport/football/news/ferdinand-man-utd-ferguson-regret-26699830 Rio Ferdinand shares insider stories about one of Sir Alex Ferguson's 'biggest regrets' at Man Utd