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Rafael Benitez was 'hours away' from West Ham, says David Sullivan

Rafa Benitez was "within three hours" of joining West Ham before moving to Real Madrid, according to Hammers co-owner David Sullivan.

Benitez was the frontrunner to replace Sam Allardyce in the Upton Park hotseat after leaving Serie A side Napolibut was instead appointed Real Madrid manager.

West Ham eventually installed Slaven Bilic as their new boss, but Sullivan has revealed just how close Benitez came to sealing a return to the Premier League.

"Rafa Benitez was within three hours of signing for us," Sullivan said in the London Evening Standard.

"Every clause in his contract was agreed and then he went to Real Madrid. It was a real blow because he is a really experienced manager in England and done really well in Italy.

"We had an agreement in place but you have to pick yourself up, look who else is available and pick the best you can."

Despite more or less admitting Bilic was not the club's first choice for boss, Sullivan has reiterated his support for the already under-pressure Croatian, with back-to-back defeats raising questions over his side.

"Whoever you take is a gamble. The bottom line is we have a manager. He has our 100 per cent support. We will support him in the transfer market. We like him."


Headlines for West Ham this week

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  • Rafael Benitez was 'hours away' from West Ham, says David Sullivan


  • Rafa Benitez was "within three hours" of joining West Ham before moving to Real Madrid, according to Hammers co-owner David Sullivan.

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  • Juventus block West Ham's loan move for Simone Zaza


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  • Valencia: West Ham have forgotten me


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  • A to Z of transfer window clichés


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  • Gossip: Everton seek Stones replacement


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