Karim Benzema received a formal offer to join Manchester United in 2009 before opting to sign for Real Madrid in a €35 million deal, Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas has revealed.
The French striker emerged as one of the hottest properties in Europe after coming through the ranks at his childhood club, scoring 67 goals in 148 appearances following first-team debut in December 2004.
A starring performance against United in a Champions League last-16 tie in 2008 had Sir Alex Ferguson singing the praises of the then-20-year-old prospect, with his commenting prompting Aulas to accuse the Scot of attempting to unsettled the team’s star man.
The Ligue 1 side’s chief has since revealed that United later made their interest formal, but Benzema’s sights were set on moving to the Spanish giants.
‘For a long time he wanted to play one day at Real Madrid and when operations began to fall into place, we did not object,’ Aulas told Canal+.
‘The proposal was superior to Manchester United's but he was given the opportunity to go where he wanted.
‘I am very happy for him. This is the best striker in La Liga and one of the best in the world.
‘The criticism he has received are part of the life of a professional football player, but we had to be above it all.’
Joining Madrid in the same summer as Cristiano Ronaldo, Kaka, and Xabi Alonso, Benzema has gone on to net 116 times in 246 games at the Bernabeu, but his impressive scoring record has not sparred him from criticism from the club’s supporters.
The 74-times capped international signed a new five-year deal in August following summer speculation linking him with Arsenal and Liverpool, but reports in recent weeks claim that both sides remain interested in bringing him to England come the winter transfer window.