Story By: Juan Mayes, Sub Editor: Joseph Golder, Agency: Golder’s News And Sport
Former Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez has revealed the club had to sell Xabi Alonso, Javier Mascherano and Fernando Torres in order to raise funds to “get closer to our rivals”.
Former Real Madrid boss Benitez, 59, made the comments during an interview with Spanish newspaper ‘Marca’ and spoke about the differences he sees at Liverpool from when he managed them to now.
Benitez said: “We did not have money. Our budget for transfers in my final year was 17 million. You could not compete with that back then.
“We had to try and sell in order to buy and when you sell Mascherano, Xabi Alonso, Torres… It was the only way to try and get closer to our rivals.
“This Liverpool has two or three years of very good investments and has made the right transfer moves. They also have a manager whose opinion is valued by the owners.”
When asked about Liverpool’s upcoming Champions League round of 16 match against Atletico Madrid he said: “Liverpool will try to bring it under control, to be on top and not let Atletico get ahead from minute one.
“If some chances go in, there will be more pressure. If Atletico are able to keep calm, which they have on many occasions, and get past the first moment, they can do damage.
“Logically, I have been at Liverpool and I want the club to win. My family is there and I still enjoy the city.
“But I will also say my father was a big Atletico Madrid supporter and that’s why I do not want to position myself with one side or another, anything can happen.”
Benitez currently manages Chinese side Dalian Professional FC and is training in southern Spain while the Chinese Super League has been postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak.
When speaking about how the situation is affecting his club he said: “We have daily tests of everything: temperature, washing our hands.
“We are training with normality because there are no sick players or anything. Psychosis was created and that is much harder to control. We went to Marbella and then here to Pinatar. We have been here for almost one month and we don’t have anything (illnesses).”
When asked about a possible return to English football, Benitez said: “Yes but I am not thinking about returning right now. We want to develop this Chinese project.
“Before coming here there were several offers from different places but they did not meet the conditions we were looking for. We could have gone to other countries.”
Liverpool are set to play Atletico Madrid for the second leg match of the Champions League round of 16 on Wednesday 11th March after they suffered a 1-0 loss in the Spanish capital.
The Chinese Super League is expected to start again on 17th April.
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