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Silva, Aguero and the deals that Rafa's Liverpool missed out on

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Former Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez still carries weight in Merseyside to this day, years after his Anfield departure.

The Spaniard famously guided the Reds to their Champions League triumph in Istanbul which, arguably, remains the greatest footballing comeback ever seen.



Some supporters, perhaps understandably, are of the view that Liverpool and Benitez could have achieved more during his five-year stay, however - certainly domestically. Aside from in 2009, Benitez’s Liverpool never really managed a serious title challenge over 38 games in any given season during his tenure.



Not everything went in the favour of the 60-year-old regarding transfers during his reign - and this is something that proved costly at certain stages of Benitez’s reign.



What happened to all 64 of Rafa Benitez's Liverpool signings

Indeed, Benitez did get some deals wrong - but the financial restraints with which he had to deal with during his time at Anfield consistently prevented the Reds from signing some of Europe’s top stars.

It’s quite a list of players, too, that Liverpool otherwise would have landed but who went on to make their names elsewhere.

It has been claimed previously that the former Reds boss missed out on signing Aaron Ramsey in 2008, with Arsenal proving to be too quick for the Reds in the transfer market and taking the Welshman to the Emirates.

And Ramsey was by no means the only one.

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A deal for Dani Alves fell through before the Brazilian moved to Barcelona from Sevilla, Portuguese winger Simao was believed to be on the verge of jetting to Merseyside before a deal with Benfica collapsed and Nemanja Vidic was on Benitez's radar ahead of his move to Man United.

But there are other big names that Benitez missed out on - and some of them could have transformed Liverpool's fortunes or even fired the Reds to a title.

One of the more well-known names that Benitez was close to securing was David Silva.

The Manchester City legend, now of Real Sociedad, was linked with an Anfield switch in 2009, but this was a deal that collapsed due to the Spanish club’s reported £20m asking price.

Manager Roberto Mancini (C) poses with new signings (L-R) Aleksandar Kolarov, David Silva, Yaya Toure and Jerome Boateng during a Manchester City training session at the City of Manchester Stadium on August 6, 2010 (Image: Photo by Clint Hughes/Getty Images)

With the club in debt at the time and needing to offload players to ease their troubles, Valencia looked to cash in on a number of stars at high prices, which was not well-received by Benitez, who said the following regarding this transfer: “It is true that we were asking about the situation with him but we are not happy with the situation now and he will not be a target for us.

“We have to work hard and we are trying to have conversations and trying to progress but it’s not easy to sign any player now.”

He's not the only star who ended up at City who was reportedly on Liverpool's radar.

If things had fallen differently, Sergio Aguero might have ended up a Red in 2006 instead of City's all-time leading goalscorer.

Aguero, who was at Independiente is his homeland, made his intentions very clear.

Manchester City's Sergio Aguero (right) and Ajax's Toby Alderweireld battle for the ball

"If I had to choose a league then it would be the Premier League," Aguero said. "I have been a Liverpool fan for as long as I can remember and it would be a dream to play there.

"I watched the Champions League final and celebrated every goal as if it was for Independiente."

Instead, Aguero moved to Atletico Madrid for £17m in the summer of 2006 - a sum of money that, for a teenager, Liverpool weren't able to compete with.

Another star that Liverpool missed out on under Benitez was Luis Figo in the summer of 2005.

The Portuguese attacker was coming towards the end of his career at 32 years of age, and was looking for a way out of Real Madrid, having spent five seasons with the Spanish giants.

In the end, Figo signed for Inter Milan, and listed the following reasons for deciding on a Serie A switch: “I had a great offer from Liverpool and they were really interested in me. But as soon as I arrived in Milan, my mind was made up.

Luis Figo speaks to the media during a press conference at Wembley Stadium, London.

''They treated me like a friend and I felt at home from the start. I now want to win everything at Inter.''

Next up in this list is a player who, still to this day, divides opinion among Liverpool supporters, Michael Owen.

Having left the Reds in the summer of 2004 to join Real Madrid, it didn’t take long for Owen to be on the move once again.

After only one season spent with Los Blancos, the striker was deemed surplus to requirements and was hoping for a Liverpool return, though would end up signing for Newcastle United in a £16m move.

Owen has admitted publicly how re-joining the Reds was always his intention, though due to the Toon Army offering more money for his services, this was the path he was left to take.

"In my mind, I thought 'go to Madrid for two years' and then come back”, said Owen when addressing his failed return to Liverpool.

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"I even shook the chairman and chief executive's hand and said 'make sure you get me back'.

"It would have been my dream [to come back]. It didn't happen and I don't blame anyone.

"I met Rafa Benitez after a year and we had sorted everything out to come back. But I had gone for £8m and Liverpool wanted to buy me back for £10m, then Newcastle came in and offered £16m."

"The Real president knocked on my hotel room door and said 'you are staying or you are going to Newcastle. I spoke to Liverpool and asked if they would match it but they said £10m was their maximum.

"At Newcastle, I had it in my contract that I could go back for a set amount. I agreed to go to Newcastle on the basis that I could still go back to Liverpool."

Gareth Barry (L) celebrates with Manchester City's David Silva (R) after scoring against Watford in January 5, 2013.

One final nearly but not quite transfer was midfielder Gareth Barry, whose reported move, ultimately, acted as the driving force behind Xabi Alonso heading for the Anfield exit doors.

Barry was viewed as someone who could replace Alonso, which soon led to a relationship breakdown between the Spanish midfielder and the Reds boss.

“The pursuit of Gareth Barry took some time for me to accept and, in all honesty, it changed the course of my future”, admitted Alonso.

Liverpool came very close to bringing Barry to the club, though he would end up signing for Manchester City the following year for £12m.

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Explaining why he selected City as his destination, Barry stated: "I met the City manager Mark Hughes in a hotel. He emphasised the ambition of the owners. He described it as a speeding train and his advice was to jump on.

"I also spoke to Rafa Benitez at Liverpool but he didn't completely convince me. He said he wanted me to come in, play left-back, left-midfield, centre midfield. That's what I'd done at Villa, it wasn't for me any more."

Despite the Reds missing out on Barry, Alonso would still depart Liverpool, signing for Real Madrid in a £30m deal.

This article was originally published in July 2019.

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