Mohamed Sissoko has explained why he rejected Barcelona in order to stay with Liverpool.
The former midfielder, who arrived at Anfield in the summer of 2005 from Valencia, won the FA Cup in 2006 and reached the Champions League final with the Reds in 2007 before receiving offers from all over Europe as elite clubs attempted to secure his services.
And he turned down advances from the Camp Nou in order to stay on Merseyside under Rafa Benitez.
“I rejected Barcelona’s offer,” the now 36-year-old said. “I received their proposal and we were in advanced talks, but I was happy at Liverpool.
“I didn’t want to go anywhere and decided to stay.
“I had a great time with Liverpool – the best game was the FA Cup final against West Ham. We came from 2-0 down to win and lift the cup.”
Sissoko would only stay with the Reds until January 2008, making 51 appearances before departing for Juventus.
However, he recalls his time with Liverpool very fondly – and particularly being afforded the opportunity to learn from legendary captain Steven Gerrard and midfield maestro Xabi Alonso after arriving at the club at just 20 years old.
“I was young and they taught me a lot,” he told FourFourTwo.
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“They were two masters. Just watching Gerrard in training was a big lesson for me. He was the type of leader who would die for his club and for his city.
“Ahead of the derbies, he used to speak to the whole squad and say, ‘We need to win – I was born here and I’ve got to win. This is my jersey, my club and my city. I could die for Liverpool – now let’s go out there and do what we have to’.
“He didn’t have to raise his voice or get angry with other players. He had that ability to find the right things to say.”