Sir Alex Ferguson wanted to use Cristiano Ronaldo transfer money to sign Karim Benzema for Manchester United before Real Madrid agreed a deal for the then Lyon striker.

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Rio Ferdinand has revealed how Sir Alex Ferguson tried to sign Karim Benzema before joining Real Madrid.

The Manchester United icon has opened up about his first encounter with the Frenchman, as the legendary Manchester United boss said he tried to replace Cristiano Ronaldo with the former Lyon striker.

AFP

If things had turned out differently, Benzema could have played for Manchester instead of Madrid

At 34, Benzema shows no signs of slowing down.

The club’s top scorer is proving irreplaceable this season and too hot for most defences, as Chelsea discovered in their Champions League quarter-final first leg.

For years, his service to Los Blancos was unquestionable, although the spotlight wasn’t often on him due to Ronaldo’s impact at the club.

And it’s understandable why the club were so keen to secure their Ligue 1 services from Lyon, having scored 316 goals in 596 games for the 13-time Champions League winners.

Speaking on BT Sport, the Man United icon spoke about the first time he played against Benzema.

“I’ve heard of him before, we’ve always talked about him as a great young talent, then I realized immediately he’s a top player,” Ferdinand said after Benzema scored against the Red Devils in a Champions League first leg. Tied for 16 in 2008.

Benzema was only 20 at the time but showed no fear against the team that would win the trophy that season.

Getty

Benzema was only 20 at the time but showed no fear against the team that would win the trophy that season.

“I remember Sir Alex Ferguson saying ‘I’m trying to get him, I think I have a very good chance of getting him’.

“But I think [Zinedine] Zidane, the collection at Real Madrid, their roots from Africa played a big role, and he ended up going to Real Madrid.

“Sir Alex Ferguson, I think he would be one of the players he’s probably most devastated not to have.

“I thought it was going to happen.”

Benzema broke Thierry Henry's record to become the most successful Frenchman of the modern era

Benzema broke Thierry Henry’s record to become the most successful Frenchman of the modern era

In 2009, Real Madrid broke the world record when they signed Ronaldo from Man United for £80million.

This left the reigning league champions at the time with plenty of money and options to find a suitable replacement.

But he wasn’t able to secure his signature as Los Blancos presented a higher offer.

“We tried to spend [the Cristiano Ronaldo money] on Karim Benzema because, at 21, I felt there would be an improvement there,” the legendary Scotsman told the Daily Express.

Benzema scored back-to-back hat-tricks in the 2021/22 Champions League Round of 16 against PSG and Chelsea

Getty

Benzema scored back-to-back hat-tricks in the 2021/22 Champions League Round of 16 against PSG and Chelsea

“He’s tough, good physique, a good goalscoring record, so it was worth going a bit further for him because of his age.

“But when he went to £42m it was beyond his value. We went to £35m and I think that was fair.

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