United fancy Real’s Benzema


Real have been waiting for De Gea to conclude his duties with the Spain national team in Belarus on Sunday before stepping up their attempt to secure his services. But with new coach Rafael Benitez not wanting to have both Iker Casillas and De Gea on his hands, it emerged yesterday that Real have agreed to pay Casillas to leave the Bernabeu.

Seeing the Real stalwart out of the door represents a first victory for Benitez, whose new employers have agreed to make up the difference between whatever contract Casillas can find next and what he would earn by staying. Casillas's acknowledgement that his Real days are over came as a surprise. Benitez was of the belief when he arrived that the 34-year-old keeper would dig his heels in and hold on.

Though United want Benzema to form part of the transaction, with manager Louis van Gaal enthusiastic about bolstering his striking options, there are several impediments to the French forward moving in the opposite direction. Foremost among them is the reluctance of Real's president, Florentino Perez, to see him go. Perez has an emotional attachment to Benzema, based on him being one of the five players he signed to mark his return as president in 2009. That may outweigh the fact that the striker has finished the last two seasons unfit and unable to contribute fully.

Benzema would also only leave the Bernabeu if asked to go, though United may benefit from their own particularly close relationship with his agent, Karim Djaziri, which goes back a number of years. Djaziri and the former United manager Sir Alex Ferguson were very close - and remain in contact - and Djaziri has claimed in the past that the only club Benzema would leave Real for is United.

The complications over Benzema do not rule out the possibility of a Real player heading in United's direction. They are as eager to sign Gareth Bale as they were in 2013 when David Moyes had just taken over from Ferguson. Publicly, the line is that Bale stays put at Real, though the prospect of him forming part of the deal is not entirely out of the question. United certainly have the financial muscle to make the package attractive enough.

Where De Gea is concerned, it seems unlikely that United will be able to persuade him to stay. Two months ago, it appeared that United's quiet overtures and vast contract offer had been enough to secure him for a further season. But come the end of the Premier League campaign, with life in Manchester out of mind, the draw of Madrid appears to have been simply too strong. – The Independent

Original source: United fancy Real’s Benzema