Rafa Benitez has sought to put a definitive end to the transfer speculation linking Sergio Ramos with Manchester United, reiterating Real Madrid president Florentino Perez's firm stance that the defender will not be sold this summer.
Despite Louis van Gaal already strengthening his squad in recent weeks with the additions of Memphis Depay, Matteo Darmian, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Morgan Schneiderlin, Spanish publication AS claimed yesterday (16 July) that United are set to continue their pursuit of Ramos with an imminent bid of €60m (£41.7m, $65.3m), believed to be their final attempt at a deal.
The same reports suggest that Real will not entertain any offers below the €90m mark, however, and Perez has already ruled out any possibility of the experienced Spanish international moving on by confirming that there are coveted players currently under contract at the Santiago Bernabeu who will not be allowed to depart over the coming weeks.
This is a view that Benitez concurs with, stating that he sees Ramos as a key member of his first team squad that still has a big role to play after a decade at Real and over 300 appearances for the club.
"In terms of Sergio Ramos, there's a lot of talk about his situation," former Napoli manager Benitez, appointed as Carlo Ancelotti's successor in June following the Italian's failure to win a single trophy last season, was quoted as saying by Sky Sports during a pre-season press conference in Australia.
"For me, he is an enormous professional. In person, he applies himself, he does everything that the team and I ask of him. And for me, the matter is that the president has already commented that he is staying with the club.
"I have spoken to him at length in the summer about his ideas, about his future. I see Sergio as an integral part of our team, he's a winner and that's what we need in our team."
Such a view on Ramos's future appears to be at odds with the player's own wishes. The Mirror previously claimed that he had informed chief executive Jose Angel Sanchez of his desire to move to Old Trafford, with both clubs having reached an impasse relating to the possible transfer of David de Gea and Jonny Evans close to joining Everton.
If United and Ed Woodward cannot force Real's hand, another defender who could fit the bill nicely is Nicolas Otamendi.
The Argentine was recently left out of the launch of Valencia's 2015/16 home kit, and Super Deporte believes the Premier League outfit are the favourites to complete his signature during the current transfer window.