Michael Owen has revealed that Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson wanted to sign Karim Benzema in the summer of 2009 and only offered him a deal after losing out on the French star.
Then only 21-years-old, Benzema was an up and coming star in Ligue 1 and was wanted by a host of Europe's top clubs. Of course, Real Madrid would eventually win his signature and the Bernabeu is where he remains to this day.
Owen had himself spent just a single season in the Spanish capital before returning for a spell at Newcastle United and then Old Trafford. However, the opportunity to move to the Red Devils would have never emerged had Ferguson sealed his top target.
“I was just saying before the show that he’s my favourite player and one of the lads said, ‘Why’s that?’ and it’s because Benzema was Manchester United’s first choice before I signed for them," Owen told BT Sport.
“If he didn’t say yes to Real Madrid then I wouldn’t have been at Man United."
It makes for painful reading for Manchester United fans who, today, saw their only recognised striker Wayne Rooney ruled out for up to two months with knee ligament damage. While Owen joined United at the end of his career, Benzema would surely still be firing in the goals and probably saving Louis van Gaal from the sack.
The France international has become one of the standout stars at the Bernabeu, especially this season. He has scored 23 goals in 23 appearances so far this campaign and is keeping pace with Cristiano Ronaldo in La Liga (19 goals to Ronaldo's 21).
Owen spent three seasons at Old Trafford, scoring 17 goals in 49 appearances and was primarily used as a substitute. While those stats hardly write him into the Manchester United history books, he forced his way into folklore with that famous goal against Manchester City in 2011.
Up there with his goal against Argentina for drama, Owen's 96th-minute strike in a 4-3 victory is still talked about on both sides of the city today.
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