Real Madrid manager Rafael Benitez says he fought tooth and nail to keep Sergio Ramos from joining Manchester United during the summer transfer window. The Spanish international was linked with a move to Old Trafford prior to signing a new five-year deal with Los Blancos.
Spanish publication AS understood that Real were holding out for a €90m (£66m, $102m) offer from the side managed by Louis van Gaal, who was a confirmed admirer of the 29-year-old. Despite having a fiery reputation, Ramos is among the most experienced defenders in Europe and has won three La Liga titles and the Champions League in Madrid, as well as the World Cup and two European Championships with Spain.
After suffering constant injury concerns in defence last season, with centre-backs Marcos Rojo, Phil Jones and Chris Smalling all spending lengthy spells on the sidelines, van Gaal was keen to add to his squad in the summer. However, a deal to acquire Ramos eventually failed with Benitez admitting he fought hard to keep the former Sevilla youngster from United's grasp.
"I fought more than anyone for Ramos to stay," he told Onda Cero radio's Al Primer Toque, according to Goal.com. Ramos came in for criticism after giving away a penalty in the Madrid derby which though Keylor Navas kept out Antoine Griezmann, put Real on the back foot, leading to suggestions of a falling out between the pair.
But the ex-Liverpool boss clarified: "There are absolutely no problems between us. He's our captain, an outstanding footballer and he has to keep showing that."
Despite Jonny Evans being allowed to join West Bromwich Albion, United failed to sign defensive cover during the off-season. Injury to Jones early in the campaign has compounded their fate, with Daley Blind having been forced to fill-in at centre-back.
While Benitez was able to keep hold of Ramos, the club's failure to complete a deal to sign David de Gea from United on deadline day worked to define their limited activity during the summer. De Gea has since signed a new contract with the English giants.