AS Roma coach stands firm on £30m Chelsea and Man Utd target

Roma coach Rudi Garcia laughed off reports linking Medhi Benatia with a £30 million move away from the Stadio Olimpico to Chelsea or Manchester United

Rudi Garcia has reiterated his desire to keep defender Medhi Benatia in Rome next season, despite rumoured interest from several Premier League clubs.

Speaking in a press conference for the Serie A club, the Giallorossi manager opted to comment on the speculation surrounding the Morocco international’s future at the Stadio Olimpico.

Up until recently the France-born star had been linked with a £30 million switch to Chelsea, though manager Jose Mourinho has claimed he has no interest in bringing the 26-year-old to Stamford Bridge.

Those comments have seen Manchester United emerge as serious contenders to land the former Udinese stopper, with the Red Devils keen to recruit defensive reinforcements ahead of the new season.

But despite the intense and seemingly never-ending speculation surround Benatia, who was also linked with Manchester City prior to their acquisition of Eliaquim Mangala from Porto, Garcia appeared in jovial mood when quizzed on the subject.

"It does make me laugh. Yesterday I read that Medhi was 99% sure to sign for another club, today it's 99% sure he'll stay at Roma. So yesterday I started looking for a replacement and today I stopped again..."

"I've said the same thing all along: I want him to remain at Roma," he added.

"The player will speak when the time is right. At the moment there's enough being said about him already as the journalists are writing the news themselves. I find it all makes for amusing reading."

Though far from a flat-out denial that Benatia will depart the capital club, the comments did see Garcia reiterate his desire to keep hold of the defender, something that could prove to be the undoing of any potential deal between AS Roma and Manchester United.

Earlier this week fellow Rome star Miralem Pjanic revealed it was his close working relationship with Garcia which convinced him to stay at the Serie A club and opt against a move to either Manchester United or Paris Saint-Germain.

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