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Fergie reveals Benzema admiration, pans Real

Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson has revealed that he has great admiration for Lyon striker Karim Benzema.

The France international is regarded as one of Europe's hottest properties, with a number of top clubs believed to have expressed an interest in acquiring his services; and United are reported to be among that group, with Chelsea, Real Madrid and Barcelona also keen on the talented 21-year-old.

Ferguson insists he is not about to make an imminent move for the powerful frontman, due to the inflated price tag on his head, but admits that Benzema is the type of player he would welcome in his squad.

"He is an excellent footballer," the Old Trafford chief told Le Journal du Dimanche. "He reminds me of (Zinedine) Zidane in the way that he uses his body. He has broad shoulders and a great drive when he has the ball at his feet.''

When asked if Benzema could play for United one day, Ferguson added: ''You always have to keep an eye on all the best players and how they are developing.

''But Lyon's president (Jean-Michel Aulas) is a sharp man. He sold (Michael) Essien for 38million euros, (Mahamadou) Diarra for 26million euros, (Florent) Malouda for 19million euros, (Eric) Abidal for 16million euros. And I congratulate him for that.

''When we played Lyon last season, at the end of the match, he said, 'Chelsea are making me an offer of 50million euros for Benzema'. I replied to him, 'At that price, I'll leave him to them'!''

Ferguson also revealed he is a big fan of another young France star, Bayern Munich winger Franck Ribery.

''He is fantastic,'' the United boss said. ''Always moving and incredible energy. He is always going forward but defends a lot too. He would have no problem playing in England.''

The United boss was also asked earlier this month whether Real Madrid were among the favourites for the Champions League, and replied: ''No chance.

''Their game lacks pace. They have great players like (Gabriel) Heinze, (Fabio) Cannavaro, (Fernando) Gago, but they aren't quick. ''There is (Arjen) Robben, the only one who can give them some rhythm, but he isn't very brave.

''The three English teams - Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal - or Barcelona (are the favourites, along with United). The level of the Premier League is so elevated that it prepares you for games at the highest level.

''And Barcelona can count on a fantastic player - (Lionel) Messi.''


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