AS Roma’s highly talented defender Mehdi Benatia, who is also a reported target of Manchester United, has confirmed that he had offers from Premier League giants Chelsea in the past, but he refused it, as he felt, he was not ready for the challenge then.
The 27-year-old started his youth career with Guingamp and later Marseille in France. After graduating from the academy, he has drafted into the senior team at Marseille, where he spent three wonderful seasons.
Back in 2005, when Chelsea were assembling top players and forging a strong team under Jose Mourinho, Benatia was offered a deal to join the Blue revolution.
Chelsea legend Didier Drogba, who knew Benatia personally during their time at both Gruingamp and Marseille, had personally suggested the club to sign the Moroccan, and the defender now claims, a three-year-offer was there on the table for him to take.
However, he was not confident about playing abroad then and especially in such a competitive environment. He said in an interview with beinsport:
“Chelsea? I did a test three or four days. I was at the same table with Didier Drogba and ClaudeMakelele.
“They had a big team at the time but I still did not feel ready to go. They offered me a professional contract for three years. It made me a little scared abroad. I felt good in Marseille, I had been upgraded in all categories.
“Going to Chelsea I-am may be lost. Didier Drogba told Jose Mourinho that I had been with him at Guingamp and Marseille and he had to take me.”
However, Benatia might be willing to move to England now. The defender has had a stellar season at Roma, while his agent hinted recently that his client could leave the club, should he receive a better offer. His agent told L’Equipe:
“His future? The directors of Roma know that other big clubs are interested and watching. A meeting is planned with the club and we will see what will be his decision. Although today, he feels very, very well at Roma.”
Benatia has been omnipresent in the Giallorossi’s remarkable resurgence this season and it is believed that ex-Manchester United manager Moyes had lined him up for Nemanja Vidic’s replacement at Old Trafford.