Former Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez has admitted he tried to sign Gareth Bale when he was in charge of the Anfield club, as reported by ITV.
The current Real Madrid manager, who now manages Bale every day, claims he had identified the Wales international as a future star back in 2006 when Bale was still playing for Southampton.
But he admits Southampton were not willing to allow their youngest prospect to leave and rejected Benitez’s advances.
Benitez told Spanish radio station Onda Cero: “Back in 2006 I went to see Southampton.
“We transferred a player to Southampton but they wouldn’t give us Bale. We then tried to buy him, we couldn’t. I’ve known for a long time he was a great player.
“[Jamie] Carragher has made the mistake of saying I preferred [John Arne] Riise, but it wasn’t like that.”
Bale eventually moved to Tottenham in a £10m switch a year later in July 2007, before eventually becoming the most expensive player in world football in 2013 when he completed a world-record £85m transfer to La Liga giants Gareth Bale.
Since his move to Real Madrid Bale has scored 41 goals and created 35 assists in just 97 first team appearances in all competitions, and was instrumental in Real winning La Decima in 2014.
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