Former Newcastle head of recruitment Tony Jimenez has struck back at Kevin Keegan, claiming that the Magpies legend turned down the chance to sign Karim Benzema during his second spell as manager in 2008.

Benzema was one of several prominent players that Keegan rejected, claimed Jimenez, as he responded to claims made in Keegan's new autobiography, a damning excerpt of which was published in the Times last week.

Keegan claimed that Jimenez prevented him from signing Luka Modric on the basis that he was "too small." Modric has since won four Champions Leagues and was named the world's best player at this week's Best FIFA Football Awards.

"The moment you questioned him he lost the plot," Jimenez said in an interview with the Times

"During that window we offered him the players that we were working on when we thought Harry Redknapp was coming as manager - Jermain Defoe, Peter Crouch, Lassana Diarra - and he said none of them were good enough.

"The other player we were really keen on was Daniel Sturridge. He said he'd had him as a kid at Man City and that he wasn't good enough for League One.


"He didn't want Hatem Ben Arfa or Karim Benzema either. We asked Kevin for a list of players for every position, bearing in mind he had £25m to spend. Our list included Benzema and Ben Arfa, who were young players at Lyon, as well as Samir Nasri."

Benzema was a Lyon player at the time but ended up joining Real Madrid a year later. He has also won four Champions League medals alongside Modric at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Keegan's second stint at Newcastle lasted less than eight months before he resigned in September 2008. He has not returned to management since.