Yossi Benayoun has singled out Rafael Benitez as the reason he left Liverpool for Premier League rivals Chelsea, accusing the Spaniard of trying to break him and treating him with a lack of respect.
Benayoun, who joined Chelsea for an undisclosed fee on July 2, blames Benitez - who has also left the club for Inter Milan – for his decision to leave Anfield.
He told the News of The World: “I made up my mind to leave a long time ago because of Benitez.
“He never treated me with the respect I deserved. If I played well, I never felt he gave me credit. When I scored, I still expected to be out of the team the next game. And when the fans wanted me to play, Benitez told me he couldn’t understand why.”
The 30-year-old continued: “There are many examples of him treating me badly.
“Last season, against Fulham and Lyon, the fans booed when I was subbed. They thought I was playing well but Benitez told me he was surprised they booed because I was not good enough.
“It was as if the fans’ reaction worked against me. The situation got worse afterwards. He told me I was a better player as a substitute instead of starting in the team.
“Then, when we played Birmingham after I hadn’t started a game for a month, he didn’t tell me I was starting until two hours before the game.
“He tried to destroy my confidence. You can’t treat a player like this and expect him to be happy. I felt so unhappy but, out of respect to the club, I never spoke out. The players and the people at the top of the club knew how I felt.”
“I don’t want to speak on behalf of other players at Liverpool, but people know what happened to Albert Riera and Xabi Alonso. It was the same for me. Benitez tried to break me like he broke Riera.
“I was sure he wanted me to attack him in the press during the season so he could turn the fans against me, so I kept quiet. I felt he was waiting for me to make a mistake so he could use it against me.”
The Israel international was told his time at Anfield was over by Benitez the day before the final game of last season, at Hull.
He explained: “Benitez pulled me to one side after training and said: ’You will not be in the squad for this game. Thank you for your three years of service, now you can call your agent to do a deal with another club.’
“That’s when Chelsea made an offer and the deal was done before he left. I knew I had to get away from Benitez. I could not risk waiting to see if he kept his job and I could not turn down such a massive club as Chelsea.
“It is good for Liverpool he has gone, but it was too late for me.”
On his switch to Chelsea, Benayoun added: “I’m not stupid. I know they have many great players and it will be hard to play in the team every week.
“But what’s important for me is I know I will be treated with respect. Carlo Ancelotti is a fantastic manager and he knows how to treat players.”