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Michael Owen recalls Alex Ferguson phone call about first-choice target in 2009

Alex Ferguson

“If we don’t get him, will you come?”

Alex Ferguson made no secret of his desire to sign Karim Benzema when he first picked up the phone to speak to Michael Owen about a potential switch to Manchester United in 2009.

Ferguson had been monitoring Benzema for some time and was eager to add the French striker’s talents to his squad, having been impressed with Benzema’s impact at Lyon.

“I only went to United because he chose Madrid over United,” Owen said of Benzema on BT Sport.

Michael Owen recalls Alex Ferguson phone call about first-choice target, Karim Benzema, in 2009.

“The first time I got a call from Sir Alex Ferguson, he was dead honest and he said, ‘We’re trying to sign Benzema. If we don’t get him, will you come to us?'”

Ferguson’s attempts to sign Benzema proved to be in vain as the Frenchman ultimately chose to move to Real Madrid for a reported €35 million instead.

Owen’s former United teammate Rio Ferdinand confirmed that Ferguson had done his best to sign Benzema and even tried to speak to him personally in 2008.

After a 1-1 draw with Lyon in 2008, when Benzema scored a fantastic opener, the forward had to be pulled away from Ferguson in the tunnel.

“Sir Alex Ferguson wanted to sign him,” Ferdinand said.

Rio Ferdinand

Alex Ferguson on Karim Benzema.

“I remember Sir Alex Ferguson was speaking to him in the tunnel after the game and some of the officials came and ushered him away.

“But Alex Ferguson wanted him and straight away after I played against him for the first time, I could see his movement and what a technician he was. Beautiful footballer.”

Benzema has more than justified his transfer fee for Real Madrid, having scored 277 goals in 555 appearances for Los Blancos and winning four Champions League titles as well as three La Liga trophies during his time at the Santiago Bernabeu.

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(Originally published on May 6, 2021).

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