Rio Ferdinand has revealed that failing to sign Karim Benzema is one of Sir Alex Ferguson’s biggest transfer regrets at Manchester United.
Benzema is in sensational form right now, having scored seven goals in his last three Champions League games and 14 goals in his last nine games across all competitions, and almost single-handedly eliminated both PSG and Chelsea from Europe.
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After his latest appearance saw him head the dramatic aggregate winner for Los Blancos to advance to the semi-finals, Ferdinand told BT Sport: “The first time I played against him was 2008, and that was the first time I had seen him up close and personal. If you see the goal he scored against us, look how many players are around him, but all he needed was one touch, it was all one motion.“
“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 how influential Real Madrid were, he chose them.”
“I think, looking back, Sir Alex will believe that is one of his biggest regrets not getting him to sign for the club.”
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Ferdinand is referring to a Champions League round of 16 clash between Benzema’s former club Lyon and Manchester United back in 2007/08. In the first-leg a stunning goal from a then-19-year-old Benzema gave Lyon a lead before Carlos Tevez bagged a late equaliser.
Cristiano Ronaldo scored the winner in the second-leg at Old Trafford and Lyon were eliminated, but one year later both Ronaldo and Benzema joined Real Madrid in the summer of 2009.
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For years Benzema played second-fiddle to Ronaldo, working hard off the ball to help the Portuguese score a ludicrous 450 goals in 438 games for Los Blancos, and this effected his reputation as a world-class striker.
But now the Frenchman gets to be the focus of Madrid’s creativity and is reaping the rewards, scoring 125 goals in 185 games since the start of 2018/19 and is arguably the best player in the world right now even at 34 years-old. We are now seeing that quality he first showed at Lyon be unleashed at the very highest level.