Macheda: Owen will make me better

Manchester United's bright young hope Federico Macheda is determined to gain the maximum benefit from working with Michael Owen.

Sir Alex Ferguson may have described Macheda as the deadliest marksman at Old Trafford earlier this week.

However, the teenage Italian knows he has plenty to do if he is to justify the faith Ferguson has shown in him by handing Macheda the coveted fourth striking role, rather than pay the kind of inflated fees being demanded by clubs across Europe for their star names this summer.

He has already made a decent start, scoring the opening goal on his first pre-season game on Monday as United recorded a two-goal triumph against a Malaysian XI.

Given they represent the strongest opposition they will face on their four-match tour of the Far East, it is unlikely Macheda will retain his place for Friday's encounter with FC Seoul.

More likely, the youngster will be unleashed against Hangzhou Greentown on Sunday ahead of a return to Europe to play in the Munich-based Audi Cup towards the end of next week.

If so, Macheda could find himself paired with Owen again, just as he was at the Bukit Jalil Stadium.

And that will suit him just fine. For, being so eager to learn, Macheda knows there is no-one better than the fourth highest goalscorer in England international history.

"It is very important for me to learn from Michael because he is one of the best strikers in the world," said Macheda.

"If I work with him and learn, I can get better every day."

Macheda owes his opportunity to an outstanding month last term.

In addition to his memorable last-gasp curling effort to beat Aston Villa and the winner against Sunderland the following week, both of which proved crucial in United completing a hat-trick of title triumphs, Macheda also started the FA Cup semi-final against Everton, when a youthful Red Devils line-up were unlucky to lose on penalties.

Impacts like that make a lasting impression on Ferguson, who is so overwhelmed by Macheda's physical presence he jokingly suggested United should check his birth certificate.

Now Macheda is out to justify his billing, knowing he owes the Scot a big favour given there were plenty of more experienced - if more expensive - alternatives.

"I have to thank Sir Alex because without him I wouldn't have the chance to play in the first team," said Macheda.

"I know I have to work hard and make sure he gives me more chances."

Meanwhile, Lyon have dismissed Ferguson's claim that United were willing to pay 32million to sign Karim Benzema.

The United boss was keen to use some of the world-record 80million fee received from Real Madrid for Cristiano Ronaldo to bring Benzema to Old Trafford.

However, Ferguson revealed he pulled out of the running when the fee went over 32million because he didn't feel it represented good value.

Real eventually signed the 21-year-old, with Lyon now claiming the up front payment from the Spanish giants is only 30million.

"Lyon deny categorically the information published today in daily newspaper L'Equipe, which said Manchester United made an offer of 40million Euros for the transfer of Karim Benzema," said a statement released by the now deposed French champions.

"The maximum offer from the Manchester club was 35million Euros, which included eventual bonuses, and the director general of Manchester United, David Gill, had clearly stated that his club would not go above this amount.

"Lyon point out that it finally accepted the transfer of Karim Benzema to Real Madrid, which was the absolute preference of the player, for a net minimum amount of 35million Euros, which could reach a maximum of 41million Euros dependent on sporting performance."

Source: Team Talk
Date Published: 23 July 2009