Rafa Benitez has admitted he tried to sign Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey for Liverpool before the Welshman ended up in North London instead.
Back in 2008, Ramsey’s breakthrough season with Cardiff was drawing a lot of attention. Despite only being 17 years old, the Welshman had already made 22 appearances for the Championship side, scoring two goals and assisting three. Manchester United, Everton and Arsenal all tried to sign the youngster, and Benitez says Liverpool did too.
“I can tell you in all my teams, in all my years, I can give you five players from each team that I looked at from when I was at Extremadura to now,” Benitez said. “Everyone has players you are interested in but you cannot always land them, or another club is quicker than you. At Liverpool we had Ramsey, and he went to Arsenal.”
11 years later, Ramsey has 369 appearances, 65 goals and 65 assists behind him with the Gunners. Included in that are his two FA Cup final winners and five goal-contributions in 13 games against Liverpool.
In that same time, the Merseyside club have only managed one League Cup trophy, so perhaps they could have done with the 28-year-old playing for them.
Unfortunately, neither Premier League side will have Ramsey’s services from this season onwards. The ex-Cardiff man is moving to Italy to join Juventus, where he’ll play alongside Cristiano Ronaldo and another former Gunner in Wojciech Szczesny.
There’s still time for one more special moment with Arsenal though, as the Gunners push for the Europa League trophy. Ramsey helped them into a 2-0 first-leg quarter-final lead against Napoli, but they still have to see out the tie and then probably beat Valencia and Chelsea to crown themselves champions. Not an easy task, so we’ll see how it goes.