Lingard thrilled to have Ronaldo back at Man Utd
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Manchester United should revisit their decade-old interest in Karim Benzema if Real Madrid sign Red Devils target Erling Haaland in the summer transfer window. Benzema proved that he remains a world-class striker with a stunning goal for France in their Nations League final win over Spain.
Les Bleus had just gone behind at the San Siro when Benzema collected the ball in the left-hand channel.
The 34-year-old cut inside and curled a wonderful effort into Unai Simon’s top corner. It was a goal that swung the momentum in France’s favour and they went on to win thanks to Kylian Mbappe’s controversial goal.
But Benzema could soon find himself in a quandary at club level. Real are desperate to sign Mbappe and fellow starlet Haaland.
The additions of two forwards could finally end Benzema’s 12-year spell as Los Blancos’ first choice striker. A total of 289 goals in 569 appearances has cemented himself as a hero among supporters but he could seek a departure if Mbappe and Haaland take his place.
Man Utd have been linked with Haaland for several years but there will be few better alternatives than Benzema if the Frenchman becomes available.
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A near 13-year age difference can be ignored as Benzema, like Edinson Cavani and Cristiano Ronaldo, will surely be a consistently outstanding performer for at least another few years.
His deal expires in the summer of 2023, meaning that he could come at a bargain price ahead of the 2022-23 campaign.
It would also be a repeat of United’s transfer pursuit of defender Raphael Varane, who joined Real despite interest from legendary former United boss Sir Alex Ferguson.
The Scot wanted to sign Benzema after he starred for Lyon in a Champions League tie against the Premier League side in 2008. The then-21-year-old scored in a 2-1 aggregate defeat.
“Sir Alex Ferguson wanted to sign him after that game,” former defender Rio Ferdinand recently told BT Sport.
“I played that game and, straight away, saw his movement. Beautiful footballer.”
At the time, Ferguson said that United offered £35million for Benzema, whose preference to join Real meant that the LaLiga side only needed to pay around £30m.
Ferguson said: “We tried to spend [the Ronaldo money] on Karim Benzema as, at 21, I felt that there would be an improvement there.
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“He is tough, good physique, a good goal scoring record, so it was worth going a wee bit extra for him because of his age.
“But when it (Lyon’s valuation) went to £42 million, it was beyond his value. We went to £35m and I think that was fair.”
Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas recounted how he accepted the lower offer from Real after Benzema made clear that he favoured a transfer to Madrid.
Twelve years on, United could attempt to finally sign the striker.
Aulas told AS in 2019: “When Karim asked me about leaving Lyon I had received two offers: one from United and one from Real Madrid.
“Karim 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.”
Perhaps if Haaland arrives at the Bernabeu, United can finally bring the brilliant Benzema to Manchester.
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