Former Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez has lifted the lid on three high-profile transfers he was denied during his time at Anfield.
Speaking on the latest episode of the We Are Liverpool Podcast, Benitez explains how limited finances restricted the signings he could make, with the Spaniard forced to choose between targets in different positions.
Read on for Benitez’s comments about player signings, sales and finances in full…
Why he signed Kuyt and not Alves
“When we signed Dirk Kuyt, he was a great player for us, but we didn’t have money. I remember the chairman giving us the money. We had to give him back the money later on, but he gave us the money because we didn’t have it.
“I was looking for a right winger, and (Kuyt) could play as a winger (or) a second striker. I had a friend of mine who told me about his work rate and that he could play in different positions.
“We didn’t have the money. We had Dani Alves, who was around £10 million, but he was a right full-back.
“Then you have to make a decision on either a player who can play as a striker, a second striker and right winger, or you go for a right full-back, Brazilian, playing in Spain, that you have to play as a right winger. It’s a big risk.
“Everybody knows that when Hicks and Gillett were here, we were under massive economical pressure.”
Trying to sign Jovetic
“I wanted to sign (Stevan) Jovetic. He was playing for Fiorentina and the price was £16m.
“In my head, with my budget, I had the money. And then when I went to sign him I was told ‘no, you don’t have the money’.
“Then we played against Fiorentina, we lost 2-0, Jovetic scored two goals. This was the player that I wanted.
“These are the kind of things that fans don’t know. As a manager, you have to make decisions depending on the money available.”
Why he decided to let Alonso leave
“We were improving, but the problem was that we didn’t have the money.
“People say ‘Rafa made a mistake because he sold Alonso’, but everything was very clear. We had Gerrard coming back, because he couldn’t play as a second striker all the time, we had Mascherano, Lucas Leiva, and we thought Plessis could maybe play sometimes.
“We had players that could play in this position, but we didn’t have a left full-back or a left winger.
“(Gareth) Barry could be the option, and with the money of Alonso we could bring in a striker or a second striker…
“Xabi could go. I knew what was going on behind the scenes, and I said ‘he has to go’.
“We have to get as much as we can, and then with the money, try to bring in two or three players to fix two or three positions.”
But he didn’t ‘push him out’
“I don’t like to say too many things that I know because they are part of the job, but when I told Xabi he could go, he didn’t go.
“And after, he could go, and I said ‘no, you have to stay’, and I made him play an important game. And after, I knew he had an agreement, I had to try and keep him as much as we could, to get the price as high as we could.”
Trying to get Juanfran in Owen deal
“I had to try to get the best deal for my football club.
“I was talking with Real because I knew Real Madrid quite well, and I was talking with a friend of mine, who was a journalist close to the president, to give me information about what they were thinking. And I knew 100 percent that they would do the deal.
“So I said to Rick Parry: ‘Rick, we have to do this price, and try to get this young player Juanfran in the deal’.
“Juanfran was playing for Real Madrid’s B team, and went on to play for Atletico Madrid as a right full-back and right winger. We needed a right winger.
“They said no, and then they put (Antonio) Nunez in the deal. We got Nunez, who was injured (a lot) and was maybe not the best signing, but I was trying to bring someone else to improve the deal for us, because it was done, it was just a question of how much.”
How he wants Liverpool fans to remember him
“I think the majority of them will think of Istanbul, but I don’t think they realise we won four trophies and reached three finals without any money.
“And I think one of the main things we did was saved the club in terms of money, economically, because it was a really, really difficult situation.
“The story about Jovetic is the proof. We were competing with the top sides, but we didn’t have the money.”