It has been said in the past that Sir Alex Ferguson was desperate to sign Karim Benzema for Manchester United before the Frenchman joined Real Madrid.
Benzema first caught Ferguson’s eye when he scored for Lyon in the 2007-08 Champions League last-16 tie against United.
Former United defender Rio Ferdinand says Ferguson had to be dragged away from the striker by the French club’s officials, as per BT Sport (quotes from Daily Mail): “The first time I played against him, Sir Alex Ferguson wanted to sign him.
“He was speaking to him in the tunnel after the game and Lyon officials had to pull him away. His movement that day was brilliant.”
Benzema joined Madrid over a year later and cost the Spanish giants £30 million. In hindsight, it was a remarkable bit of business, but sadly it was United that had to miss out.
Anthony Mounier, one of Benzema’s ex-teammates, has told The Athletic that Ferguson did what he could to lure the striker to United, but the youngster had dreams to emulate the Brazilian Ronaldo at Real Madrid.
“Karim was the man at this point,” Mounier said. “Manchester United were so keen on signing him that Sir Alex Ferguson went to Karim’s house to meet his parents.
“But his dream was to play for Real Madrid. He really looked up to the Brailian Ronaldo. That was his idol. Karim’s dream has always been to play for Real Madrid and he wanted to follow in Ronaldo’s footsteps.
“If Real Madrid want to sign you, you can’t turn them down.”
The 34-year-old has since had an incredible career in Spain. This season he has 44 goals to his name, including 16 in the Champions League, and it would be fair to say he has been the club’s main player since Cristiano Ronaldo’s exit in 2018.
Speaking to Movistar ahead of Madrid’s Champions League final against Liverpool, Benzema said (H/t Liverpool Echo): “Liverpool have a lot of confidence. They think they have already won the match, maybe. Maybe they think this isn’t the same Real Madrid as last time, these things. Maybe they think they’re favourites.”
The France international already reacted to recent comments from Mohamed Salah suggesting that the Scousers are out for revenge. He brilliantly battered away the Egyptians’ claims.
“Salah can say what he wants, but this is a different game.”