Talk Sport

Former Newcastle recruitment chief claims Kevin Keegan rejected the chance to sign Daniel Sturridge AND Karim Benzema when he was manager


Kevin Keegan reportedly turned down the chance sign Daniel Sturridge and Karim Benzema during his second spell in charge of Newcastle.

These are the words of former Magpies recruitment chief Tony Jiminez, who has been responding to huge claims made by Keegan’s autobiography.

Keegan made a number of damning claims about the Newcastle hierarchy in his autobiography

Keegan said Jimenez prevented the club from signing Luka Modric – who won the FIFA Best Men’s Player award this week – in 2008 as the Croatian was considered ‘too lightweight’ for the Premier League.

Jiminez responded in an interview with The Times, claiming Newcastle turned down Modric as owner Mike Ashley was not willing to pay Dinamo Zagreb’s £16million asking price.

He added that Keegan didn’t want to sign the likes of Benzema, Hatem Ben Arfa, Sturridge, Samir Nasri, Peter Crouch, Jermain Defoe and Lassana Diarra.

Instead, the former England boss wanted the likes of David Beckham, Frank Lampard, Ronaldinho and Kaka to come to St James’s Park which would have made for a huge transfer value of £400m, according to Jiminez.

Sturridge, who has played for Liverpool since 2013, was allegedly deemed not good enough for League One by Keegan

Jiminez said: “The moment you questioned him he lost the plot. During that window we offered him the players that we were working on when we thought Harry Redknapp was coming as manager – Jermain Defoe, Peter Crouch, Lassana Diarra – and he said none of them were good enough.

“The other player we were really keen on was Daniel Sturridge. He said he’d had him as a kid at Man City and that he wasn’t good enough for League One.

“He didn’t want Hatem Ben Arfa or Karim Benzema either. We asked Kevin for a list of players for every position, bearing in mind he had £25million to spend. Our list included Benzema and Ben Arfa, who were young players at Lyon, as well as Samir Nasri.

“Kevin took one look and called them all chancers. His list was David Beckham, Frank Lampard, Ronaldinho, Kaka, among others. We added their transfer value up and it was £399m, plus £100m in wages.”

The Newcastle supporters were certainly on Keegan’s side

Jiminez went on to say that he had a difficult relationship with Keegan which allegedly started before the Liverpool and Magpies legend was even appointed Newcastle boss.

He added: “Kevin was told at the interview that this is the job, these are the financial constraints – don’t take it if you don’t want it.

“Go back to Glasgow and run your Soccer Circus rather than creating a circus in Newcastle, which is what he did. He just said ‘yes’ to get the job.

“Kevin was a great player but lives in a time-warp. He played in an era when the top managers ran every aspect of football clubs and thinks his status in the game means he should have the same control.


“He didn’t understand that it doesn’t work like that anymore. Perhaps God had given him so much talent in his feet that he’d taken something else away?”

Keegan maintained ‘the truth is in the book’ when told about Jimenez’s claims.

 

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