Mehdi Benatia has confirmed that Premier League giants Manchester City and Chelsea were trying to sign him before his £21million switch to Bayern Munich.
Jose Mourinho and Manuel Pellegrini weren’t the only two to challenge Pep Guardiola for his signature either, as he also claimed that La Liga giants Real Madrid and Barcelona were trying to sign him.
Benatia has built a healthy reputation in Serie A, impressing for Udinese before making the switch to AS Roma, where he spent only a single season.
Premier League interest makes sense
Chelsea and Manchester City’s interest was understandable as both have been on the lookout for new defenders and the chance to snap up Benatia arose, he claims, because Roma needed the cash from his sale.
"Manchester City and Chelsea wanted me, while there were also approaches from Real Madrid and Barcelona," Benatia told reporters.
"I discussed my future with Roma sporting director Walter Sabatini. He told me that the club wanted to hold on to me, but that they needed the money from a sale. That annoyed me, because I initially wanted to stay put.
"But let it be clear, I was happy to join Bayern Munich. I like Munich - even if it's a bit cold here."
Chelsea could have possibly done with signing another defender before the transfer deadline passed last week, as the Stamford Bridge squad only contains six senior first team defenders.
However, Mourinho’s recent assertions that the Blues can no longer consider themselves a big-spending club because of Financial Fair Play restraints may have made them reluctant to get into a bidding war with the likes of Barcelona, Real Madrid and Bayern.
Meanwhile, Manchester City addressed their need for a central defensive addition by splashing out a significant sum on young Porto star Eliaquim Mangala.
The Etihad Stadium club reportedly shelled out a fee in the region of £32million to snap up the France international, though the fact he is 23 years old compared to the 27-year-old Benatia could be the reason behind making him a more attractive prospect.
Bayern moved to sign the Morocco international late in the transfer window when midfielder Javi Martinez was ruled out until next year after rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament.
Guardiola often deployed the Spain international in defence, so had to cover two positions when he got injured. Benatia was the defensive choice and Xabi Alonso moved to the Bundesliga champions from Real Madrid as the midfield cover.
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