United will not break wage cap for Benzema

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The Independent Football

Manchester United's determination to regain the Premier League title will not draw them into paying the top-end wages commanded by some players at Manchester City and Chelsea, despite the Glazer family's indications to Sir Alex Ferguson that there is money to spend this summer.

The Independent understands that United matched Lyons' £35m asking price for Karim Benzema last summer but only walked away from the deal when the player's wage demands soared to near £200,000 a week. Though City were prepared to pay John Terry more than £200,000 a week to move to Eastlands last summer, United will apply the same strictures on salaries as they set about winning back the title.

United have been linked with a fresh move for Benzema, who moved to Real for £35m – the same price United were offering 12 months ago. But the player will seemingly need to accept a substantial reduction in pay, and any desire United may have for a more potent strike partner for Wayne Rooney will be tempered by a determination not to shatter the current pay structure. Wayne Rooney is likely to become United's highest paid player by signing a possible £150,000-a-week deal after the World Cup.

Ferguson is acutely aware of City's ability to blow him out of the water where salaries are concerned. Robinho's arrival on £160,000 a week on the first day of the club's Abu Dhabi ownership shattered the club's own pay structure and Carlos Tevez's £140,000 a week is topped up with benefits including having his £1,800 monthly rent paid by the club.

The Glazers, who have indicated they have no intention to sell United, would prefer to see a bid for the club from the so-called Red Knights come sooner rather than later, to enable them to draw a line under an issue they believed to be a distraction. The Red Knights, who had indicated a bid may be made by June, said yesterday that the process of doing so was "understandably complex and is taking time".

Though the Knights are expected to bid £700m with £500m of the £1.2bn value of the club covered by the recent bond issue remaining in place, bond holders' entitlement to a 101p premium for their bonds in the event of a change of ownership appears to leave the Knights needing up to a further £500m available for possible pay-outs.

Meanwhile, Patrice Evra has said missing out on the title means he feels he had a poor season. The defender said: "I've always said if I don't come first in the league I will feel like I haven't done my job very well for Manchester United. When you play for this club you always need to win. I have been here for four years now and this is my first full season here that I haven't won the league and that is why it is a very sad day."

Ben Foster is on the brink of a £6m move to Birmingham City.

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