Mexico legend Rafael Marquez claims he had an offer on the table from Premier League side Newcastle United during his time at Monaco.
Marquez played 242 times for Barcelona in his most high-profile spell in Europe, winning four La Liga titles, a Copa del Rey, three Spanish Super Cups and two Champions Leagues.
The 42-year-old – who is now the youth team boss of Spanish fifth-tier side Alcala – is the third most capped player in the history of the Mexico national team after playing 147 times for El Tri.
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And now the former centre-back has revealed that during his time at Monaco – where he won the Ligue 1 title – he was approached by Newcastle, who put an offer in for him.
Marquez told TUDN, on their podcast La Pelota Al Que Sabe: “More than any other club, perhaps another league, at the beginning, when I was in Monaco in my first year, I had an offer from Newcastle. But it was not the league that it is today.
“The league has improved since. I think today it is the best, and maybe I would have liked to play in an important team of the Premier League.”
Marquez has lots of admirers with Yaya Toure declaring him one of the most underappreciated footballers back in 2019.
“Marquez was one of the toughest defenders,” Toure told Sky Sports. “People don’t remember him because he didn’t play in England. But if you want to remember him you have to go to YouTube and check what he was like at Barcelona. What a defender. He was 10 times better than Gerard Pique.”
Meanwhile, Eddie Howe has challenged Newcastle maverick Allan Saint-Maximin to play himself into the France squad as he continues to light up the Premier League.
The 24-year-old livewire turned in a superb individual display in the Magpies’ vital 3-1 home win over Everton on Tuesday, after which Toffees boss Frank Lampard described him as “pretty unplayable”.
Head coach Howe realises what a talent he has on his hands in the £16million Frenchman, and is convinced that with even more to come, he can star on the international stage.
Howe said: “A hundred per cent that’s something he can achieve, without a doubt. He’s got everything you’d want in his locker already.
“You look at his performance the other day – the cross for Ryan Fraser’s goal from a position in which there was no space to get that ball into the box was incredible, but his overall work-rate and endeavour and attitude were very good and if he can hit that consistently, then what a player he can be.
“There’s no doubt he’s got the talent to do anything he wants to do, but finding that on a consistent basis will be the challenge for any player of his type. It’s not easy, but I’ve been very, very pleased with him in recent weeks.”