Football News

Lyon president reveals how Man Utd missed out on signing Karim Benzema

By Ben Green

Published: 16:44, 4 December 2019

Karim Benzema decided to join Real Madrid a decade ago despite Manchester United tabling a “superior offer”, according to Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas.   

The high-scoring Frenchman arrived at the Bernabeu in the same summer as Cristiano Ronaldo and has since gone on to notch over 200 goals for the club.

How close were Man Utd to signing Benzema? Five things to know…

  • In the summer of 2009, Benzema was one of the most sought-after youngsters across Europe.
  • At just 21 he had already amassed just shy of 150 appearances for Lyon and netted 66 goals.
  • A BBC Sport report at the time says Zinedine Zidane recommended Benzema to the club after a deal for David Villa collapsed.
  • Real had just signed Cristiano Ronaldo from Man Utd and Sir Alex Ferguson says they tried to use that money to secure Benzema.
  • However, the Frenchman ultimately joined Real and Jean-Michel Aulas has now disclosed the details of this tug of war transfer saga.

That 2009 summer would see Real embark on an epic Galactico-style overhaul, with Florentino Perez splashing out on Cristiano Ronaldo, Benzema, Kaka and Xabi Alonso.

However, things could have been entirely different had then-Man Utd boss Sir Alex Ferguson got his way, but Real’s sixth-highest ever goalscorer decided against a move to Old Trafford, and instead pitched up in Madrid.

Discussing the transfer a decade on, Lyon president Aulas has now revealed the Premier League club actually submitted a higher offer, but Benzema had his heart set on joining Los Blancos.

“When Karim asked me about leaving Lyon I had received two offers: one from United and one from Real Madrid,” explained Aulas.

“Karim, just as [Nabil] Fekir did, came to see me and this showed that we had a very trusting relationship. He [Benzema] said: ‘My dream is to play for Real Madrid.’

“We sold him to Madrid even though United had made a superior offer.”

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Benzema in Madrid

A move to Man Utd could have proven yet another transfer masterclass from ‘Fergie’ but it just wasn’t to be for the Old Trafford legend.

Instead, Benzema joined Real as a precocious marksman and has since flourished under the Bernabeu lights, securing legendary status in the process.

During his 10-year stint in the Spanish capital, the Frenchman has netted a sublime 236 goals for the club in 483 appearances, making him their sixth-highest goalscorer.

He sits above the likes of Hugo Sanchez and Emilio Butragueno in the scoring charts and is just six shy of equalling the great Ferenc Puskas.

Benzema has also won a plethora of accolades, including two La Liga titles, two Copa del Rey trophies, two Spanish Super Cups and four Champions Leagues.