Just when you thought Real Madrid had sated their appetite for extravagant attacking ability in the transfer market, with the signings of Ronaldo and Kaka, they swoop for one of French football’s most prized assets in a deal reported to be worth up to 41 million euro. The signing of Karim Benzema from Lyon takes Real Madrid’s summer spending past the 200 million euro mark and into the realm of pure fantasy, if it had not reached that point already!
Returning President Florentino Perez has left no doubt as to his intentions with the signing of three massive attacking talents, at different stages of their respective football development. The potential options available to manager Mauricio Pellegrini are now quite staggering but one gets the impression Perez will add some pragmatism to his project. Real have already secured Spanish defender Raul Albiol and they are also being heavily linked with a move for Liverpool midfielder Xabi Alonso.
Real Madrid have sent a clear message to their domestic rivals Barcelona but Perez has also fired a broadside at the hegemonic position of the English Premier League clubs as he looks to eclipse the glamour of the previous ‘Galactico’ period at the club.
The transfer of Benzema to Real Madrid further underlines their current economic dominance over the likes of Liverpool and Arsenal but also delivers a blow to Manchester United as Sir Alex Ferguson looks to rebuild his side this summer. After allowing their prized asset Cristiano Ronaldo to leave for Madrid in a world record fee, Mancheser United have been forced to watch as Real pinch a player that has been on their wish list for some time.
Alex Ferguson has admired the 21 year old French striker since his impressive performances against Manchester United in last year’s Champions League, where he scored a superb goal at the Stade Gerland. Benzema has been linked with many of Europe’s top clubs since he rose to prominence in France’s Ligue 1, but one name that was nearly constant was that of the English champions, Manchester United.
A statement from Lyon today has made it clear where Benzema saw his future, their website revealed: “The player wanted to seize the opportunity which Real Madrid offered him to be one of the major elements in their new ambitious project based around the greatest players in the world.”
It is unclear how deeply involved Manchester United were in the negotiations to sign Benzema but a snub from one of Europe’s brightest talents would be a blow to Manchester United’s prestige as well as their plans to reconquer Europe following Barcelona’s Champions League triumph.
It will be interesting to see where Manchester United now turn their attention as they look to replace the goals of Cristiano Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez. It is one thing to have a substantial transfer budget but quite another to find the right kind of players to bring into the club. The addition of Antonio Valencia will add power and pace to their attacking play but United fans must be anxious about the strength of their striking options.
There are a number of strikers that could be on the move this summer but many of them do not seem to be the right fit for the Premiership champions. If David Villa leaves Valencia he does not appear interested in a move away from Spain and Manchester United will surely not countenance offering Samuel Eto’o the kind of wage deal Manchester City are prepared to pay. What about Franck Ribery, surely the signing of Benzema signals the end of Madrid’s interest in the winger?
Manchester United’s next move in the transfer market will be a significant one as Alex Ferguson looks to re-invent his team but Real Madrid will continue to cast a very long shadow during the summer transfer window.