Mehdi Benatia

Roma have attempted to pour cold water on interest from Premier League giants Liverpool and Manchester City by slapping a €61m price tag on defender Mehdi Benatia.

The Morocco international enjoyed a successful first season in the Italian capital, helping the club finish second in Serie A and qualify for the Champions League following his summer move from Udinese.

Benatia says Roma have promised to renegotiate his contract after his first season, and with talks having stalled, rumours abound that both Liverpool and City could launch a bid for the centre-back.

In an attempt to deter the Premier League's top two, club director Walter Sabatini says the defender is only available for a substantial fee.

"Benatia is a guy with sound principles: he doesn't want to take a step away from the Roma fans or his team-mates," Sabatini said.

"Personally I think €30m is the value of Benatia's weak foot. If Benatia's weak foot is worth €30m then the total price would be €61m.

"Benatia is not for sale, unless someone comes to us with an offer of 61 million," he added. "With that we could improve the squad.

"Benatia has been completely coherent, he's never played for himself, always with and for the team."

While City targets this summer are expected to revolve around improving their defence, Liverpool are seeking to add depth to their entire squad – with Southampton's Adam Lallana among those rumoured to be close to joining.

But after conceding 50 Premier League last season, Liverpool hero Steve Nicol says the club should concentrate on improving their back-four and make Benatia their primary target.

"I'm hearing all these names like Lallana, but if there was ever a position that Liverpool need to strengthen quickly and make a good decision on, it's at centre-back," he said.

"Players like Benatia at Roma. Roma are a team over the last few years who have accepted a lot of money from teams for players. They're a team who seems quite happy to sell and then go and find somebody. Someone like him would be ideal.

"I'm more concerned at what is going on the back as opposed to what is going to be going on at the front of Liverpool's side. If you lose goals eventually it's going to catch up with you."

Watch Benatia in action on YouTube, below: