Rafael Benitez has revealed he tried to sign Gareth Bale during his six-year tenure at Liverpool.
The Spanish boss revealed papers and scouting reports as evidence that he had tracked Bale since 2006 – when the then left-back was at Southampton – and rejected Reds legend Jamie Carragher’s claims that he didn’t make a move because he already had John Arne Riise at the club.
“Carragher has made the mistake of saying I chose to stick with Riise instead of Bale. It wasn’t the case.”
Benitez also hit back at Sam Allardyce’s claims that he had “nowt” to do with Liverpool’s Champions League victory in 2005.
Allardyce wrote in his new autobiography, ‘Big Sam, The Autobiography’, that Liverpool’s memorable Champions League final win over AC Milan was “nowt to do with him”, with the new Sunderland manager accrediting the win to captain Steven Gerrard.
Speaking to Spanish radio station Onda Cero, Benitez has responded to the newly-appointed Black Cats boss.
“How many titles has Allardyce won? That tells you all,” Benitez said, completely forgetting Allardyce’s League of Ireland First Division title with Limerick in 1992 , as well as second-flight play-off final victories in both 2001 and 2012.
“Allardyce is what happens when you get a book in England… his opinion has little value.”
Benitez discussed Real’s long-standing interest in David De Gea with the radio station, this after the Manchester United keeper remained coy on reports that his new Old Trafford contract included a clause to sign for the Spanish giants next summer.
“We can not miss more time with [Iker] or De Gea discussions. I have great goalkeepers.
“Keylor [Navas] is proving that a team like Real Madrid still needs a great goalkeeper.
“I am not surprised by Keylor’s level. I am surprised that people claim Keylor saves us; goalkeepers have to stop shots.”
Benitez, who has led Real to second place in La Liga after seven games, added that he has “no problems” with Karim Benzema despite the striker’s complaints of being “fed up” at being continually substituted.
“I have no problem with Karim Benzema,” Benitez stated. “I have said that he will make between 20 and 25 goals.
“We know how to control Benzema to be well.
Benitez also stated that he and the club have “zero problems” with captain Sergio Ramos despite rumours of a rift between the two.
Defender Ramos nearly moved to Manchester United this summer before signing a new contract at the Santiago Bernabeu, but reports claim that he and his new manager do not enjoy the most positive of relationships.
“Sergio is the captain and a phenomenon and will prove it permanently,” Benitez added.