31 Oct 2011

RAFA BENITEZ: "He's the best player I've ever managed..."

Former Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez has bought and managed some top class players during his career, but who does he feel is the best player he's ever worked with?

In an interview with Fox Sports Australia, Benitez gave his answer:

"It's not easy. The last one was Gerrard, but I had Baraja at Valencia who was also very good.

"I've had some good players but I'd have to say Gerrard or Baraja are maybe the best because they could do a lot of things well".

Benitez's choice is hardly surprising - Gerrard and Baraja are the type of players he loves the most: versatile, and capable of playing many different roles in the team.

The praise for Gerrard didn't stop there; in response to the question 'who is the best player you've ever seen', Benitez responded:

"It's easy to talk about Messi, but when Gerrard is fit he's one of the best too. He's different to the others - Messi has ability and he can score goals but Gerrard can do a lot of things".

High praise indeed, but when when Gerrard is fully-fit, he is an amazing player, and in his prime, he was probably one of the best players in the world.

Who would you rather have in your team: A fully-fit Gerrard in his prime, or Lionel Messi?

Jaimie Kanwar


  1. Gerard is greatly under rated, in Britain. Sadly when he retires & even after that he'll start to get the recognition he deserves right now.
    Messi can't be compared with Gerard a they are different players in different positions BUT, capt fantastic CAN do much much more than create & score great goals. The only position he hasn't tried & made a success of is goal keeper.
    Yes I am biast but both Mr Ferguson & Jose wanted him badly - neither succeeded not cos of funds or wage demands but cos 'the lad just won't come'.
    He's red thru & thru.
    A living legend.

  2. simply fantastic player, a rare breed.truelly inspirational. everything a centre mid should be

  3. Stevie Gerrard is a great finisher, one of the best around, and that is his main attribute

    He never really had the ability to boss a game from centre midfield in my opinion

    Fingers crossed he can get back fit soon. He could play up front with Suarez as he pushes on in years

  4. im a liverpool fan but if you would take steven gerrard over messi you are pathetic

  5. Am surprised he didn't mention Carragher

  6. Messi over Gerrard at Anfield........ NO CHANCE.......
    Theres not a player who's ever lived that would've done more for an average LFC team than STEVEN GERRARD...FACT !!!!!

  7. dont think he was implying hes as good as messi at wat he does. i couldnt see messi hitting a 35 poll driver or catching c ronaldo and doing a fanstic tackle on him and still keeping the ball or hitting a 60 yard presice pass.
    messi couldnt do alot gerrard does. vise versa.
    you forget how special stevie g is on his day.
    whos pathetic if your a liverpool or england fan and cant see that

  8. Messi is one of the greatest forwards ever.
    But Gerrard is the greatest all round footballers ever! Name another player who can play from defence to the forward line RB,DM,CM,LW,RW,SS and FORWARD where Messi is limited to the front line and needs Xavi or Iniesta to bully the game for him from midfield.
    Gerrard needs no one when he his firing on all cylinders.

  9. was it around 25 goals that season that gerrrd got playing down the right side ?

  10. Gerrard is our captain, a Liverpool lad and one of our best, arguably our best ever player.  What he has done for this club.... well,  words won't do it justice.  In that sense I would take Gerrard over Messi all fu***ing day.  But Messi is the best player in the world for a reason.  If you ask any non Liverpool fans, it is likely that the majority would say Messi.  Ask any Liverpool fan and they wouldn't swap Stevie G for anyone!!

    In King Kenny we trust!!



  11. Gerrard is incredible but i would love a player like Messi..

  12. Common Benitez, don't take away someone else credit. It was Grrard Houllier who nurtured and developed Steven Gerrard to a player he is today. Stevie G regarded like his father. Tis statement is contained in his biogaphy.

  13. Stevie was, and still is I suppose, a bit of an enigma. Getting the best out of him was tough. His peak was often unfortunately when everyone else around him was falling to bits. If you could flick some magic switch and get 100% top-drawer Stevie G when ever you wanted then I do think he would deserve to be considered one of the very best to play in this most modern era. Problem is that even Rafa, who seemed to be able to get the best out of him most of the time, couldn't do that. Messi is not such a mystery and for that reason I'd take him over Stevie if my life depended on it. However, since it's usually just a football match I'm more than happy to have had our local lad in the team these years rather than the Argentinian wiz. 

  14. jj is right. Look at Messi when he plays for Argentina. Without Xavi and Iniesta, he's not much cop.  

    Gerrard is the ultimate player. His intelligence and understanding of the game, allows him to be versatile and and his strength and stamina does not restrict him to a single position on the pitch.

    Quite simply the best player I have ever seen.

  15. Thats just the problem though. A Gerrard in his prime is a rare thing that doesn't last. Even when he was injury free he wasn't consistant. He could change a game in an instant and blow our minds but he often rushed the ball to quickly and lost possession. Messi even on a bad day is the best player on the pitch and both scores and creates (and yes lowee he often passes accurately from 60 yards). Unlike Gerrard he is hardly ever injured. He has an incredible work ethic also. I love Stevie G but if you would take Stevie G over Messi it says more about "being a faithful red" then having any kind of footballing knowledge. Messi is probably the best player who has ever lived even though he is only 23 and I am sick of hearing that it is because of Xavi and Iniesta. Thats Bollocks. You obviously never watch him play for Argentina. He simply has to take a deeper role in that team and he is usually still the best player on the field for them as well. You could put Messi in any team in the premier league and he would still be the best player in the world. 

  16. I agree with Adam Griffins comments

  17. Steven Gerrard is awesome. Born and raised a Liverpoolf fan.
    Born and raised in the City of Liverpool. He's Liverpool through and through.
    He's the heart of team.
    It's sad  he's injured too often these days.

  18. @Ashfah.......Are you for real?, seen some of your so called comments, before, and you always sound like an 8 year old, are you?. Grow up!!!.

  19. Ashfah>>>>>>go put your nappy back on.

  20. So what's gerrard like when he plays for England. may be without torres alonso he doesn't pull up trees either

  21. You are wrong mate, messi is an amazing talent the best there is at the moment without a doubt. BUT saying the best ever is totally wrong there have been far better players. A great great player has to win major cups on every team he plays, what has messi won with argentina f**k all. And dont tell me argentina has bad players coz it will probably come second to spain with most talented players to choose from. And what if he plays in an average team i doubt he's gonna be recognized. Just have a read in wikipedia maradona's biography you will be in for a surprise. And there is Zinedine Zidane which i think is the best ever player. He destroyed brasil in 98 world cup final remember, just by himself. On every club he's been he's won major cups. That guy is a true legend and a role model to every football fan. 

  22. Agree with your comments, Messi is being labelled as possibly the best ever ( I think that is wrong as it is premature to say he is as good as Maradona yet, he still has many years ahead of him to do so much more but when you watch him he is just simply special ) . Although I love Stevie G I will ask LFC fans to consider the below points.

    1. As Messi is (probably wrongly) being Labelled the best ever, where does Stevie G sit amongst the best of all time in his position? (with the likes of Zidane, Xavi, Figo, Gullit, Michael Laudrap, Mattheaus, Platini, Zico, Socrates etc). Fact is Gerrard would be overlooked on a World list, and if you are talking just about English competition there is Glenn Hoddle and Paul Scholes - I hate to say it but both were smarter and consistent players

    2. When have we seen the best of Stevie G ? - When a certain Spanish Manager saw that he was too tactically indisclipined to play in central Midfield and utilised him on the right, and then also playing him off a central striker. Gerrards glory years have much to do with Benitez playing him out of his favoured position

    3. Gerrard and England - You cannot blame Gerrard for Englands failures. But it has much to do with the overhyping of English talent which time and time again is exposed at tournaments

    For the good of LFC, I would choose Messi everytime.

  23. Messi for me is the best in the world and no one comes close...  But Gerrard has been probably the best club player in his generation along with giggs and that is also  a massive achievement .. I cannot pay a higher compliment to his attitude and passion and undisputed quality. He did carry the whole team for years and that is rare.....what an icon for everyone connected to the club.   


    messi > gerrard

    BUT for liverpool who have had "dry spells" gerrard has been better for the whole, what he offers as captain (for liverpool) is unmatchable.

    *sharpens throat cutting knife"

    does any one know where jaimie lives ?

  25. Are n't we talking about these players at club level?
    Messi has grown up with one style of play,where Gerrard has played in teams that have played different styles and formations and Gerrard has excelled at every position he has played and not just a jack of all trades you could give Gerrard a gold for his performances.
    If we are talking international level Gerrard has scored at the tournaments he has been at but managers were in love with Lampard only Gerrard came away with some credit at the last world cup,lets not forget Germany blew Argentina away 4-0. 
    Messi is great but those little flicks,back heels,slide passes and one twos only work when you are surrounded by players who can read your game look at Fabergas since he has joined Barcelona he looks even more amazing player then when he was Arsenal.

  26. You do know Gerrard has scored goals in FA,UEFA,LEAGUE and CHAMPIONS LEAGUE FINALS over the last 10 years under Houllier and Rafa.
    Rafa could see more potential in Gerrard then just a marauding CM player.

  27. Lets settle this like a game of top trumps! (in their prime)
                                Gerrard                      Messi

    shooting                    9                              9
    passing                      9                              9
    heading                     8                               8
    dribbling                     7                              10
    tackling                      9                               6
    speed                        8                               9
    attacking                   9                               10
    defending                   9                               6
    skill                           9                               10
    total                         77                              77

    Can not really compare these two different types of players, But gerrards all round game makes him more versatile, however, goals win games and messi is the best attacker in the world.


  28. also like to add that gerrard has carried his team for the past decade whereas messi has always played in a team full of superstars with chances being put on a plate for him. Who can forget gerrards call to arms when he got that first goal back in the CL final in Istanbul? What about the winner from 40 yards in the fa cup final. A leader, a legend.

  29. I think you all need to go re-read the heading of the article an stop getting bogged down with hypothetical nonsense...

  30.  Messi is easily the more skilled player, but he is just 1 player. This is not a statement you could possibly apply to Gerrard or Rooney, either of whom equate to having an extra man on the pitch, and in tight games where every man counts, you can't leave such a player out. Messi will never make the same difference to a team that Gerrard does. However, it was Benitez's folly to build the team around Gerrard. I like how instead of building a game around attacking players, Kenny builds an attacking game around the holding midfielder and it doesn't matter if it's Lucas, Spearing or Gerrard.

  31. Rooster 4 I

    I agree with you, Although Souness in my opinion was THE best Liverpool midfielder ever, He was also in an Incredible Liverpool team....

    Gerrard however, as you correctly said plaid in some pretty average Liverpool teams.....So on that basis you could well be right after all...


  32. This player in his prime was amazing. Gerrard is a legend and is one of those players in the world that you hoped would never age. Every team in the world would choose a fit peaked Gerrard just as any team would want Messi. You cannot compare the two, and forget about choosing one of them, I would pick both!! Two is better than one.

  33. Do you like anything about Liverpool? Every comment is negative.

  34. In England definitly Gerrard. 

    I would also pick Kun Aguero over Messi for any PL team, bacause Aguero played for smaller teams and Messi only played at Barcelona, he was brought in when they were one of the top 3 teams at the time.

    In Argentina he is not as impressive. 

    Aguero had to work his way up, often being the player to relay on by his teammates, Gerrard too. He will finally reap benefits of his quality and he is the player I will always regret not to see playing for Liverpool.

    There are and always were players of great quality (Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, C.Ronaldo, Messi, Drogba, Rooney... just in the recent time) but he is the one I always wanted in LFC, more than anyone alse.
      I don't want to start the debate about can the club afford him, did the club needed him, could he have been bought insted of Carroll etc. etc...
    THIS IS JUST MY VIEW, it doesn't have to be the right way and obviously people in charge didn't think he was needed or worth it, since the club didn't made an effort to buy him. They were maybe right, but this is my view, as I already said.

  35. And Benitez developed Gerrard hugely as well

    And in what way was he taking the credit anyway? He was just saying he's the best player he's ever managed.

  36. What you fail to see is that Messi has champions around him and because of the chances he gets and scores he is idolised. The question is can he carry the whole team on his shoulders the way Gerrard has done on so many occasions? I doubt it. Messi is a dribbler and finisher and creator but hes not explosive such as Stevie. On so many occasions Messi has had the opportunity to show his skill on the world stage and carry Argentina but time and time again hes failed. Barcelona make him look like Gods gift to football but the truth is he is just a very very good player. Id have Gerrard any day of the week.

  37. So true Gerrard can carry a team on his shoulders whereas Messi has failed to do that on so many occasions when hes played for Argentina. You cant say that hes carrying Barca as he is surrounded by world beaters.

  38. Mali if you cant appreciate what Gerrard has done for this football team then its best you just raise the white flag and go support Man City or Chelski...seriously

  39. if you are talking just about English competition there is Glenn Hoddle
    and Paul Scholes - I hate to say it but both were smarter and consistent
    players....whatever you meant by that seems you do think even scholes could b better cant talk about hoddle never saw him Damn i hate to say this but the guy is overrated..hope you give this guys  Zidane, Xavi, Figo, Gullit, Michael Laudrap, Mattheaus, Platini, Zico, Socrates etc average team mates see how they would fair