“I rejected Manchester United’s offer because I want my children to grow in an Islamic atmosphere” – Mehdi Benatia

Former Juventus centre-back Mehdi Benatia has revealed he rejected the chance to join Manchester United because he wanted his children to grow up in an ‘Islamic atmosphere’.

The 31-year-old joined Qatari side Al-Duhail in the January transfer window in an €8 million (£7m) deal. But before his move, United made an offer to sign Benatia and were willing to pay the Morocco international a salary worth €4.5m (£4m) a year, according to reports in Italy.

Benatia received criticism in his homeland over his move to Qatar but the defender insists the decision over his transfer was due to personal reasons.

‘I faced criticism from the Moroccan sports critics after moving to Doha but i want everyone to respect my decision because it was the best for me and for my family,’ said Benatia.

‘I want my kids to grow up in Islamic atmosphere, and I could go to clubs in the UAE or Saudi Arabia but I preferred to be with Al Duhail and there are a lot of Moroccan players who play in the national team and are with the Gulf clubs.

‘Coach Herve Renard knows me well and if he sees that I do not deserve to be with the national team, I will respect this decision.’

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