Thursday, April 15, 2021

REVEALED: Manchester United came very close to signing Benzema

Karim Benzema reportedly attracted interest from Manchester United during his Lyon days. But no deal materialised and the French forward ultimately made a move to Real Madrid.

The 33-year-old initially had a very slow start to his Real Madrid career. But now he is one of the club’s best-ever players. He has scored 273 goals in 546 games since joining the club in 2009. And this season as well, he has been the club’s most important player. In just 25 games, he has scored 18 goals and provided 6 assists.

The striker’s Real Madrid career has been laden with domestic, as well as continental trophies. He has won the La Liga thrice, Copa del Rey twice and Champions League four times. He is also the fifth highest goal-scorer in the Champions League history, with 70 goals in 126 games.

Benzema will look to add more trophies to his accolade, as his team prepare for their quarter-final tie against Premier League side Liverpool in the Champions League. They are also firmly in the La Liga title race as they sit third in the table, just two points off Atletico Madrid.

Karim Benzema on form at Madrid
Benzema has won the Champions League four times with Real Madrid. Photo: Citi Sport Online

United’s interest in Benzema:

The Red Devils were interested in signing Karim Benzema as he prepared to leave Lyon in 2009. But the Manchester club never got particularly close to signing the Frenchman, as he didn’t fancy the move to England, according to BBC Sport.

Benzema won four consecutive Ligue 1 titles with Lyon and was looking for a move abroad. He attracted interests from various top clubs including Manchester United, Real Madrid, and Arsenal. But Benzema chose Real Madrid over the Premier League duo.

Madrid president Florentino Perez made a specific trip to France to persuade Benzema to join his team over any other club. Perez saw glimpses of Zinedine Zidane in Benzema. As a result, he personally visited the player and his family at his home and convinced both parties to make the move to Spain.

Then United manager Sir Alex Ferguson was even prepared to pay him and Lyon more money than Real in order to secure the deal. But Benzema preferred a team which had a legendary status, thus he chose Real Madrid.

REVEALED: How close Manchester United were from signing Karim Benzema
Perez went great lengths to sign Benzema in 2009. Photo: Marca

How Benzema could have helped United:

Failing to land Benzema then would not have affected Manchester United much. The club were in their glory days and had Wayne Rooney and Dimitar Berbatov in their prime.

The Red Devils won three out of a possible five Premier League titles from 2009 till Sir Alex Ferguson retired, narrowly missing out in 2009 and 2011. But the post-Ferguson era is where a player like Benzema would have helped United.

The club were in turmoil under David Moyes, Ferguson’s successor at Old Trafford. And it’s fair to say they have not recovered much. There is improvement under current manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, but they are a far way off from winning the Premier League.

Meanwhile, Benzema has been a consistent performer for Real Madrid for over a decade. And at 33, is still going very strong. Manchester United can surely do with a player like Benzema like now.


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