BEIRUT

Football

Benzema transfer target for United and Man City

French forward Karim Benzema (L) talks with teammate Yann M'Vila a training session on June 9, 2012 at the training center in Kircha, on the eve of the team's Euro 2012 football championships opening match. (AFP PHOTO / PATRICK HERTZOG)

BEIRUT: Karim Benzema is believed to be a transfer target for both Manchester City and Manchester United, but the French international Striker has revealed he is happy to stay at Real Madrid.

The former Lyon star revealed that Manchester United have been trying to sign him for the past four seasons yet has ruled out a move in the near future.

The 24-year-old endured a difficult start to his Real career, with the player falling out of favor and manager Jose Mourinho preferring to use alternative options up front.

Last season, however, the player was a revelation, bagging 32 goals in all competitions as Real marched toward the Spanish title.

“The rumors about my future are common, every summer it's the same that I will be going to this club and that club,” Benzema told the Sun newspaper.

“I know Manchester United have tried to sign me for the past three or four seasons.

“But I am very happy at Real Madrid and the thought about leaving has never crossed my mind.

“When I was at Lyon they and a number of other English clubs wanted me but could not agree terms with Lyon.

“Besides, I wanted to go to Spain and I can honestly say I have never regretted that decision,” Benzema added.

Yet both Sky Sports and the Mirror have reported that the player’s U.K. agent Jonathan Hope is in talks with City with a potential transfer to the English champions in mind.

“I have put Benzema forward after a talk with a very reliable and high source at Manchester City as a possible summer signing,” Hope told Sky Sports.

“We are working closely to secure the exclusive mandate to obtain the paperwork firstly after serious interest from the champions.

"The player has stated himself he will not go to Manchester United. However, he has not ruled out a switch to join the champions. I will have a clearer picture soon after the Euros when I have time to sit with his representatives."

Arsenal look set to step up their interest in Montpellier’s Olivier Giroud and are prepared to offer Marouane Chamakh as part exchange for the French forward, according to French radio station RMC.

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger sent scouts to watch the striker last season and is preparing a bid for the 25-year-old who scored 21 goals in 36 Ligue 1 games as his side were crowned champions of France.

A host of European clubs have been linked with the player, and Montpellier are realistic about being unable to hold on to the player.

The Gunners look set to open talks about a possible transfer and hope to push a deal through by tempting the French side by offering Chamakh on loan.

The Moroccan forward enjoyed a fine run of form in the early part of his Arsenal career after signing from Bordeaux in 2010, but has since struggled managing only one goal last season.

The player still holds a strong reputation in France as a reliable goal-scorer, where he helped Bordeaux win the league and cup double in 2009.

AC Milan are believed to be eager to sell a stake in the club worth 200 million euros ($250 million) to Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, and would look to use the investment to finance an astonishing move for Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo.

Corrieredello Sport reports that a large amount of the money Milan would receive from the emir of Dubai will be set aside to bid for the Portuguese international, who joined Real from Manchester United in a world record 80-million pound transfer.

Milan are prepared to offer wages which would make Ronaldo the highest paid player in the history of the game, tabling a deal worth 20 million euros a year.

The Italian giants also hold few qualms about offering Real Madrid more than 100 million euros for the player who has scored 146 goals in 144 games for the Spanish champions.

Real boss Jose Mourinho plans to use his time at Euro 2012 to cast his eye over Borussia Dortmund’s German international Mario Gotze, with the Portuguese manager keen to move for the player should a deal for Lucas Moura fall through.

El Mundo Deportivo reports that Mourinho has admired the player for some time and believes he will be able to lure the player to the Spanish capital.

Gotze is one of the most highly rated players in the game, with former Germany and Dortmund legend Matthias Sammer describing him as “one of the best talents we’ve ever had.”

Arsenal are also keen on the 19-year-old and had a 35 million pound bid for the player rejected last summer.

The player recently signed a new contract to keep him at the Bundesliga club until 2016, but both Arsene Wenger and Mourinho hope to pries the player away from German football.

 

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