Karim Benzema
Karim Benzema had option to join United says Aulas (Reuters)

Karim Benzema received a formal offer to join Manchester United in 2009 before he opted to sign for Real Madrid, Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas has revealed.

France international Benzema emerged from Lyon's youth ranks to become one of the most sought after players on the continent, spending four years in the French club's first team before Europe's elite came calling.

His performance against United in a Champions League tie as a 20-year-old in 2009 saw Sir Alex Ferguson praise the young striker, comments that prompted the ire of Aulas who accused the Scot of trying to tap up the player.

The Ligue 1 club's chief has since revealed United did make their interest formal, only for Benzema to be enticed by a superior offer from the Spanish capital.

"For a long time he wanted to play one day at Real Madrid and when operations began to fall into place, we did not object," Aulas told Canal+ of Benzema who joined Real Madrid for €35m, LeSport 10 report.

"The proposal was superior to Manchester United's but he was given the opportunity to go where he wanted.

"I am very happy for him. This is the best striker in La Liga and one of the best in the world. The criticism he has received are part of the life of a professional football player, but we had to be above it all."

Benzema joined Real Madrid during the same summer in which Cristiano Ronaldo, Kaka and Xabi Alonso arrived as part of a overhaul that saw the club's spending reach £200m.

Despite his impressive return of 116 goals in 246 appearances since his move from France, Benzema has often received criticism from Real supporters. Speculation surrounding his long-term future in Spain emerged during the summer transfer window only for the player to bring it to an abrupt end by signing a new five-year deal in August.