Former Roma defender Medhi Benatia has revealed that Ricky Massara tried to take him back to the club in January, while he would answer the call if Gianluca Petrachi got in touch.
Benatia spent one successful season with Roma in 2013-14, joining from an Udinese side who had finished higher than the Giallorossi in the previous season. However, the Moroccan defender helped turn things around as part of a strong partnership with Leandro Castan at the back, seeing Roma rise back to a second-placed finish.
He left at the end of that year in controversial circumstances, with president James Pallotta branding him a liar despite Benatia’s claims he had wanted to stay, after signing for Bayern Munich.
Five years on, Benatia, now plying his trade for Al-Duhail in Qatar, has suggested that Roma made contact to bring him back this year.
“The last contact I had was with Ricky Massara, who asked me how I was doing in Qatar,” he revealed to Tele Radio Stereo. “Roma will always remain a place where I always felt good.
“When Ricky called me, I thought about it, then he went away and I stayed in Qatar, where I am fine.
“In January he asked me if I could stay in Italy, for him my story with Roma hadn’t finished. I gave my availability, but I didn’t feel like staying for six months at Juventus, playing little. Then I looked around, in England and Qatar, and I chose the latter. Then Massara asked my availability for June, but then he went to Milan.
When asked if he would respond if current sporting director Gianluca Petrachi called him, with Roma still in dire need of a new centre-back, he answered: “I always respond.”
Elsewhere in the interview, Benatia was quizzed about how close his international teammate, Hakim Ziyech, had been to Roma in 2018 – before Monchi chose to sign Javier Pastore instead.
“It was before the World Cup,” confirmed Benatia. “He talked to me about Roma, I told him to go to Roma, but the agreement didn’t go through due to a question of money with Ajax, I believe. He knows how to make a difference, I am convinced that the Giallorossi should follow him.”
He also believes that former Juventus teammate Daniele Rugani could help Roma improve in defence, with talks with his entourage ongoing.
“I know Rugani well, he is very young, he plays for Juventus and it is not easy to find space with champions like [Giorgio] Chiellini and [Leonardo] Bonucci in front of you. He is focused and attentive, as well as a great professional. I don’t know if he will go to Roma, but if it is done, I am convinced that he will have a great career.”
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