Rafael Benitez
Benitez's crowning achievement at Liverpool was winning the Champions League in 2005Getty Images

Gerardo Bruna has revealed that his progress at Liverpool was hampered by Rafael Benitez's exit from Anfield.

The 24-year-old was convinced by the Spanish manager to leave Real Madrid and join Liverpool after Benitez assured him a future in the Reds' first team. He was dubbed as the "next Lionel Messi" after impressing for Argentina U20's in the Toulon tournament in 2009.

Bruna picked up an injury in 2009 and after the end of that season, the current Napoli manager was relived from his duties at the Merseyside club. Benitez was replaced by Roy Hodgson and after his disappointing time at Anfield, Liverpool brought Kenny Dalglish to manage the club.

Bruna is currently with Accrington Stanley and Dalglish made him aware that he has no future at Liverpool, which led to his departure from Anfield to Blackpool in 2011.

"After I played for Argentina [under-20s in the Toulon tournament in 2009] I came back to Liverpool and did pre-season, that was when Benitez gave me a chance in the first team squad," Bruna was quoted as saying by the Liverpool Echo.

"But I had a knee injury, I had the operation in Barcelona and when I came back I struggled a little bit with injuries and wasn't involved that much.

"Benitez left and everything changed. Roy Hodgson came, I still trained a few times with the first team, but then came Kenny Dalglish and he told me I was not going to play in his first team, so obviously I needed to do something."

"In Spain you have so many teams - under 18s, under 19s, the third team, the second team and then Real Madrid. I was only in the under 16s at the time, it's a really big step.

"So when Liverpool called me and offered me the chance to train with the reserves and the first team sometimes, I felt like it was a lot closer."

"I thought for a 16-year-old kid it was a good move. Benitez was one of the main reasons too. I think you should never regret the decisions you take, I am happy I went to Liverpool," he added.

Bruna never featured in Liverpool's first team and he joined Accrington Stanley earlier this year after his brief spell at Blackpool, Huseca and Whitehawk.