Ex-Manchester United striker Andy Cole has urged the club to look to Real Madrid star Karim Benzema ahead of Tottenham Hotspur striker Harry Kane.

Kane, 21, remains heavily linked with a move to Old Trafford following his breakout season in the Premier League last term, with Sky Sports claiming United will consider making a bid of £40m ($62m) for the England international.

But after only one season of consistent football in the top flight, Cole has his reservations over such a move and would much prefer to see the club attempt to prise £30m-rated Benzema away from the Santiago Bernabeu.

"I like him," Cole told the Mail of Benzema, who was initially linked with a move to Old Trafford by the same publication. "He is a very good player and played at the highest level for numerous amount of years. He's done it at international level and [you] look at that and say that could definitely work and him and [Wayne] Rooney.

On Kane, who struck 29 goals for Spurs last season, Cole added: "He's had a brilliant first season. But then can he come to Man United, and if it's true for £40m, and bring to Man United what Man United need?

"I think the kid [Kane] is talented. We have to be honest. He had half a season where everything went for him. Penalties at the 'keeper and rebounds are coming straight to his feet.

"He scored some goals but to take that leap – because your second season in the Premier League is always tough – to leave Tottenham and come to Man United and for Man United to pin all their hopes on him, for the money and it if it did happen, that's a hell of a lot of pressure.

"Man United need to compete in Europe and the championship as well. He's a baby, still learning his trade."

United manager Louis van Gaal successfully guided United back into the top four of the Premier League at the first time of asking but his possession-based game ensured the club did not always operate at their free-flowing best – evident in their haul of 62 league goals, their second worst tally in the Premier League era.

Cole believes that has to change next season, adding: "The way they played this season, it is not typical Man United.

"It's not Sir Alex Ferguson and galvanising football where you had attack because he and the fans would let you know you're not attacking.

"The history of the football club is about style. It's about attacking teams. If you go 1-0 up then you keep attacking teams and win by five. That's what the manager wanted when I played. He wanted to punish teams when they came to Old Trafford.

"I think a lot of teams came to Old Trafford this season believing they could win. The fear factor has gone. When United start winning more games and playing attacking football the fear factor will come back."