Zinedine Zidane thwarted Man United’s attempts to sign top striker as he eyes Solskjaer’s job

Manchester United’s hopes of signing Karim Benzema over a decade ago were apparently thwarted by Zinedine Zidane.

Zidane has been tipped to take over as the Red Devils manager if Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is given his marching orders.

United were keen to land Benzema in 2009 when the then 21-year-old was plying his trade for hometown club Lyon.

However, after the striker spoke to compatriot Zidane, he opted to join Real Madrid instead, according to United hero Rio Ferdinand.

“I absolutely love Benzema,” Ferdinand told BT Sport.

“I played against him when he was a young player at Lyon. I was hugely impressed and Manchester United were trying to sign him then but he went to, under Zidane’s words and advice, Madrid.

“It looks like it has been a match made in heaven. What I love about Benzema is that he is a player who could possibly be one of the most humblest players.

“He sacrificed a lot of his own game because he knew what Cristiano [Ronaldo] brought and he knew Cristiano would enable him to win more if he sacrificed his own game.

“That is a big thing to do for a player knowing how good he is.”

Zidane went on to take charge of Real Madrid during two spells as manager. He left Los Blancos for a second time at the end of last season and later claimed the club ‘no longer had faith’ in him.

He has since been touted to take over from Solskjaer at Man Utd and has also been linked with the vacant Newcastle job.

Benzema, meanwhile, has scored 292 in 573 games during his time at the Bernabeu.

He has won four Champions League trophies and three La Liga titles since moving to Spain and is regarded as one of the deadliest strikers in world football.

Zidane managed Benzema during two spells as Real Madrid boss and made the forward central to his side.

Under Zidane, Benzema started all of Real’s Champions League finals between 2016 and 2018 as Los Blancos won three European titles in a row.

Benzema has been in sensational form for his club and has scored 13 goals in 14 appearances this season. He has also created eight goals.

And the forward was even recently tipped by Zidane to win this year’s Ballon d’Or.

“Benzema deserves the Ballon d’Or,” Zidane told Telefoot. “He’s an incredible player – I’ve had the great honour of managing him.

“He can do it all on a pitch. He’s a cut above – and I hope he’ll be rewarded for it with this Ballon d’Or.”

Benzema wasn’t the only forward Real signed in 2009. That very summer they shelled out mega-money to sign Cristiano Ronaldo from the Red Devils.

And the duo went on to have outstanding careers in Madrid as the club enjoyed a spell of dominance.

United, meanwhile, instead turned their attentions to Michael Owen, who moved to the Red Devils in 2009 after leaving Newcastle and had mixed success in Manchester.