Rafa Benitez has denied claims that he chose not to sign Gareth Bale when Liverpool manager because he preferred John Arne Riise instead.
Jamie Carragher revealed earlier this week that the ex-Anfield boss was interested in signing Bale when he broke through at Southampton.
He claimed Benitez chose not to pursue the Welshman – who now plays under the Spaniard at Real Madrid – because he believed he was no better than his current full-back Riise.
But the Madrid boss has refused that claim – and insists Southampton are to blame for Bale failing to make the move from St Mary’s to Anfield.
Speaking to Spanish radio station Onda Cero, Benitez said:
Back in 2006 I went to see Bolton-Southampton. We transferred a player to Southampton but they wouldn’t give us Bale.
Then when we tried to buy him, we couldn’t. I’ve known for a long time he was a great player.
Carragher has made the mistake of saying I preferred Riise when it wasn’t like that.
Benitez is now tasked with getting the best out of Bale as Madrid manager.
The former Tottenham attacker has won the Champions League and Copa Del Rey since signing for the club in a world record £85million deal two seasons ago.
But he’s yet to break through 25 goals in any seasons for Madrid and will be expected to do that as he takes more of a central role under Benitez this term.