Rio Ferdinand has insisted that Sir Alex Ferguson still regrets failing to bring Karim Benzema to Manchester United during his time in charge of the Red Devils. Benzema has enjoyed a hugely successful career with Real Madrid and is widely considered to be one of the best strikers on the planet after winning three La Liga titles and four Champions League trophies over the course of his spell in the Spanish capital.
The Frenchman was on top form once again for Real Madrid against Chelsea on Tuesday, chipping in with the decisive winner in extra-time at the Bernabeu after grabbing a hat-trick in the first leg at Stamford Bridge to book his side’s place in the semi-finals of the Champions League. United legend Ferdinand, who was on punditry duties for BT Sport, revealed before kick-off that Ferguson once tried and failed to sign Benzema in what could have easily been one of his biggest regrets from his time in the Old Trafford dugout.
“The first time I played against him was 2008, and that was the first time I had seen him up close and personal,” said Ferdinand. “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.
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“I think looking back, Sir Alex will believe that is one of his biggest regrets not getting him to sign for the club.”
Benzema has scored a total of 317 goals in 597 appearances for Real Madrid since joining Los Blancos from Lyon in the summer of 2009. He has been leading the charge for Carlo Ancelotti’s side over the course of this season after finding the net on 38 occasions in all competitions and could be among the contenders for this year’s Ballon d’Or, which is set to be awarded in October.
It remains to be seen whether Benzema’s astonishing form will be able to guide Real Madrid to yet another Champions League title over the coming weeks after his decisive goal against Chelsea at the Bernabeu. Ferdinand’s pre-match comments on Benzema were echoed by fellow BT Sport analyst Joe Cole, who also pointed out that the 34-year-old has reaped the rewards of Luka Modric’s presence in midfield for the Spanish giants.
“The levels this lad is hitting are unbelievable,” added Cole. “Him and Modric have been almost a decade together and they know each other so well. He’s just a joy to watch.”
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