Premier League trio Manchester City, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur have been dealt a huge transfer blow, after AS Roma manager Rudi Garcia confirmed that defender Mehdi Benatia is not for sale.
The Moroccan international was a crucial part of Roma's defence last season, who only conceded 34 goals in 38 games, and interest in him is high, with a move to England the most likely option, but Garcia has recently ruled out the possibility of any move away.
Roma finished second in Serie A last season, behind champions Juventus, and Garcia is now ready to strengthen his side in order to compete for the title yet again next season.
The Italian side have already signed left-back Ashley Cole and winger Juan Manuel Iturbe, and Garcia's main attention is now on keeping the rest of him team together.
After an impressive campaign for Roma, Benatia was scouted by a few Premier League clubs, mainly Manchester City and Chelsea, but after Spurs replaced Tim Sherwood with Mauricio Pochettino as full-time manager, the North London club are now exploring transfer targets, and Benatia is one of them.
Franco Baldini, the club's sporting director, is reportedly in Italy speaking to Roma after building up a good working relationship with them due to signing Erik Lamela from them last Summer.
Baldini is keen to land new defenders for Spurs, after they conceded 51 goals in 38 Premier League games, and after seemingly securing Ben Davies from Swansea City, the club are now on the lookout for new defenders, with Benatia high on their wishlist.
Hands off warning
However, Garcia has been quick to squash any rumours of Benatia leaving the club, and he has insisted that he is not for sale.
‘For me, it’s clear. He’s under contract and he will be a Roma player this season,’ he told the club’s website.
‘Fortunately the president makes a point of speaking with the players, he likes talking with everyone – he hasn’t just spoken with Mehdi, he’s spoken to them all.
‘The only thing is that for you, the chat he had with Mehdi is more interesting than the ones he had with the others.
‘In my opinion Mehdi is relaxed, he’s motivated and he will play tomorrow. There’s no problem.’
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