Saturday August 15 2020
Benatia: 'Roma rejected Ziyech'

Hakim Ziyech ‘would’ve run to Roma,’ reveals Medhi Benatia, but President James Pallotta blocked the deal, considering him ‘an excessive expense.’

The 27-year-old Morocco international completed his €40m transfer from Ajax to Chelsea this summer, but it all could’ve been very different.

“I had tried to get him to come to Roma, and he would’ve run to join this club,” fellow Morocco international and ex-Giallorossi defender Benatia told La Gazzetta dello Sport magazine Sportweek.

“I spoke to Francesco Totti and Edin Dzeko, telling them that this is the man they want. As a director, Francesco did everything he could to get the deal concluded, but Pallotta said it would be ‘an excessive expense’ and nothing ever came of it.”

Totti left Roma soon after, in the summer of 2019, in protest at the way the club was being run.

Another Moroccan talent, Achraf Hakimi, has now signed for Inter in a deal worth €40m plus bonuses.

“Hakimi is probably the jewel in the crown of this generation of Moroccan players. He is already one of the five best wing-backs in Europe, while in a couple of years, he’ll be contending Trent Alexander-Arnold of Liverpool for first place.

“Hakimi called me before he signed for Inter. I told him Italy was the best move he could possibly make,” added Benatia.

“It was also perfect, as Inter will help him to grow tactically. Everyone wanted him, from PSG to Bayern Munich, but he can refine his talent and become a more complete player in Italy, especially with a coach like Antonio Conte.”