'Winner' Ramos needed at Real Madrid, says Benitez
MELBOURNE: Spain defender Sergio Ramos is not leaving Real Madrid and is an integral part of the La Liga giants' plans, according to new coach Rafa Benitez.
Ramos has been linked to a move to Manchester United for a number of weeks, despite having two years left on his contract.
According to Spanish media reports, Real have already rejected offers of over 28 million pounds ($43.77 million) from the Premier League club for the 29-year-old Ramos.
Benitez, who replaced sacked Italian Carlo Ancelotti after a trophy-less 2014-15 season, was reluctant to discuss transfer speculation but was forthright about the status of his seasoned central defender.
"In terms of Sergio Ramos, there's a lot of talk about his situation," Benitez told reporters in Melbourne on Friday. "For me, he is an enormous professional. In person, he applies himself, he does everything that the team and I ask of him.
"And for me, the matter (is that) the president has already commented that he is staying with the club.
"I have spoken to him at length in the summer about his ideas, about his future. I see Sergio as an integral part of our team, he's a winner and that's what we need in our team."
United manager Louis van Gaal is seeking to shore up his club's defence to help improve on last season's fourth-place finish in the Premier League.
Benitez, who has been contracted at the world's richest club for three seasons, has also declared Real must improve their defence after a season in which they surrendered both their Champions League title and domestic King's Cup crown.
Offensively, Benitez has been grilled over how he intends to deploy Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale after reports the pair were unhappy about the positions they typically played under Ancelotti.
Benitez has tried a number of different lineups during training in Melbourne ahead of Real's International Champions Cup opener against AS Roma on Saturday, fuelling speculation the Briton might play a more central role in the Spaniard's attacking setup.
Managing the million-dollar egos in the dressing room will be one of Benitez's most demanding tasks and the 55-year-old treaded gently when discussing his plans for the pair.
"Ronaldo, Bale, all of them are so good," he said.
"All of them have an option... Ronaldo is a key player for us. Bale is a key."