Operation Benzema: Man Utd only signed Michael Owen after failure to lure Madrid star

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The former England striker only moved to Old Trafford because Sir Alex Ferguson was unable to land the Frenchman, who has spent eight years in Spain

Michael Owen has revealed that Manchester United only signed him after they were thwarted in the race to sign Karim Benzema from Lyon.

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In the summer of 2009, the former Liverpool striker made a shock move to Old Trafford, but it would never have materialised if Sir Alex Ferguson had been successful in his attempt to swoop for Lyon forward Benzema, who switched instead to Real Madrid.

It took €35 million for the Bernabeu side to land the French striker from his hometown club, and he has remained there ever since.

Owen, though, has admitted that history could have been very different if Ferguson had had his way.

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“I thank Benzema because without him I would never have gone to Manchester United,” he admitted to Canal + . “Ferguson told me that I will only sign if he couldn’t get Benzema. And that's what happened.”

Owen spent three years at Old Trafford but enjoyed little personal success with the Red Devils, where he scored only five Premier League goals in 31 appearances.

Benzema, meanwhile, has found the net 123 times in 251 La Liga outings since moving to Spain and is closing in on the 200-goal mark in all competitions for Zinedine Zidane’s side.

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