Harry Kewell says he rejected the chance to join Frank Rijkaard at Barcelona, as he prepares to play under the new Galatasaray manager this season.
Kewell joined Liverpool from Leeds United in 2003, and he has now told Galatasaray TV that he not only turned down Rijkaard’s approach but a number of others in order to play for the English giants.
“While he was at Barcelona, Rijkaard asked me to transfer there,” Kewell said. “It would have been a great event to play for Barcelona and to be part of that team.
“But I preferred Liverpool. I’ve rejected many bids to stay at Liverpool.
“It was my decision.”
Though initially successful, the latter part of Kewell’s Liverpool career was hampered by injury problems, eventually leading to his departure from the club at the beginning of last season.
Seemingly out of favour with manager Rafael Benitez, the former PFA Young Player of the Year moved to Turkey, where his career was rejuvenated with Istanbul giants Galatasaray.
With his injury worries now behind him after a season of consistent first-team football, European competition and more than ten goals to his name, Kewell is now looking forward to playing under UEFA Champions League winner Rijkaard.
A world-class player in his day, the Dutchman made his name as a manager during a highly successful spell with Barca, where he led the club to a Champions League title and two league and cup triumphs.
Rijkaard forged a reputation for attractive football while at the Camp Nou, and Kewell says he is relishing playing in the coach's preferred 4-3-3 system as he looks to back-up from a successful debut season in Turkey.
“I think 4-3-3 is a very good system,” Kewell said. “Rijkaard successfully implemented this system at Barcelona.
“With everyone in the right position in the system, Galatasaray will be successful with it.”
It appears, however, as though Rijkaard will not be favouring the same man he coveted while he was at Barcelona, having brought in Cote d’Ivoire international Kader Keita from Olympique Lyonnais.
The 27-year-old will likely be in direct competition with Kewell for a starting place in the Galatasaray first team, though the Australian has welcomed the challenged.
“There is always competition,” he said. “Last year I was competing with Arda [Turan]. Competition is good.
“We want our players to be ambitious. Football is not an individual game, it is a team game.
“The club will win the league as a result of this competition.”
Chris Paraskevas, Goal.com
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