Bayern’s summer signing Mehdi Benatia has revealed that several top European clubs were interested in his services.
Mehdi Benatia was linked with a move away from Stadio Olimpico all summer long. Manchester United and Chelsea were both very publicly linked with a move for the center back, but Bayern Munich were the club that were eventually successful in getting the Morocco international in their ranks as he completed a £20m switch to Bayern from Roma last month.
The 27-year-old has now admitted that he turned down several clubs during the summer including Spanish giants Real Madrid and Barcelona as well as English biggies Chelsea and Manchester City.
“Manchester City and Chelsea wanted me, while there were also approaches from Real Madrid and Barcelona,” Benatia told Kicker.
The defender said that he wanted to stay with the Italian side which was so impressive last season. But Roma wanted a deal due to financial reasons, which even though left him annoyed, he was still happy to come to Pep Guardiola’s team.
“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.”
When asked whether his transfer fee added any more pressure, Bayern’s newest recruit said: “It doesn’t make any difference for me whether I join a club on a free transfer or for a big fee.”
Roma made a flying start to their Serie A season in 2013/14 and were challenging Juventus all season long for the title. In fact, they didn’t slip below the second place after being dismantled from the top by Juve in the 13th week. Their solid defence had a great part to play in the wonderful campaign they had. They conceded only 25 goals in 38 matches and Benatia established himself as one of the best centre-backs in both Italy and Europe. His composed performances brought him a lot of attention during the transfer window.
Even though it was earlier suggested that Bayern were not going to do a great deal of business in the tail-end of the window, Pep Guardiola had to make advances for players like Benatia and Xabi Alonso as injuries in the existing squad left him no choice. Javi Martinez is expected to miss the majority of this season having torn his anterior cruciate and lateral collateral knee ligaments in a 2-0 defeat to Bundesliga rival Borussia Dortmund last month. Bastian Schweinsteiger was also ruled out for at least two weeks on the sidelines. Defender Rafinha and midfielder Thiago Alcantara are also long-term injury victims.