Ramos '100 per cent committed' to Real Madrid, says Benitez
MELBOURNE: Real Madrid captain and centre back Sergio Ramos is "100 percent committed" to the club, new coach Rafa Benitez said on Thursday, amid continued speculation the Spain defender could be on his way to Manchester United.
The English Premier League side's manager, Louis van Gaal, hinted this week he may be pursuing the 29-year-old Ramos, who has two years left on his Real contract but is said to be unhappy with the level of his wages.
Ramos could join United as part of a swap deal, with his Spain team mate and goalkeeper David De Gea, 24, going the other way, according to reports in Spain and England.
"De Gea is not our player and Ramos is our captain and a very important player for us," Benitez told a news conference previewing Friday's International Champions Cup match against Manchester City at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
"I hope he's still here at the beginning of the season," added the former Liverpool manager, who took over from the sacked Carlo Ancelotti at the end of last season.
"I want him to stay on, he's a fundamental player for all of us. It's clear to me and the club that he will remain 100 percent committed to Real Madrid.
"I respect Van Gaal and what matters to me is that Ramos stays here."
Real's Croatia midfielder Luka Modric also emphasised the key role Ramos plays at the club and said he did not expect him to leave.
"He's our captain and our leader both on and off the pitch," Modric told reporters.
"I think he'll stay because in my opinion he's the best defender in the world and he should be on the best team in the world," he added.
"There's no need to ask him to stay because I'm certain that's what he wants to do."
After taking on City, Real fly to China, where they will play Champions Cup games against Inter Milan in Guangzhou on Monday and AC Milan in Shanghai the following Thursday.
Their opening La Liga game of the 2015-16 campaign is at Sporting Gijon on the weekend of Aug. 22-23.