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Carragher: Benitez preferred Riise to Bale

Jamie Carragher claimed former Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez thought Gareth Bale was not any better than left-back John Arne Riise.

Carragher said after breaking into the Southampton team, Benitez looked into signing Bale but decided not to pursue him, instead preferring Riise, as the Welshman eventually joined Tottenham in 2007.

Benitez and Bale are now working together at Real Madrid but Carragher admitted it was difficult for the former to envisage the 27-year-old's rise to the top of football.

"He [Bale] has come so far since making his way at Southampton. When he broke into their team, Rafa Benitez looked at signing him for Liverpool," Carragher wrote for the Daily Mail.

"Bale was playing as a left back then and Rafa didn't think he was any better than John Arne Riise, so he never pursued it.

"Clearly the Bale that Benitez now manages is a completely different prospect.

"Bale has been a success in Madrid, his stunning solo goal against Barcelona in the Copa del Rey final and the header that gave Real the lead against Atletico Madrid were both moments that only the special ones produce."

Carragher went on to say that Bale has the potential to be one of the greatest players Great Britain has ever produced.

"Is he good enough to take a team to European domination, just as Dalglish did? I believe he is," Carragher added.

"What he has helped Wales achieve is remarkable."

"Should he back it up with even greater displays at club level, entry to the pantheon awaits."