MELBOURNE (AFP) - The futures of Real Madrid stars Sergio Ramos and Cristiano Ronaldo are secure and both will remain at the club, vowed manager Rafael Benitez on Thursday.
Spain international Ramos has been linked with a move to Manchester United in a swap deal with Spanish goalkeeper David De Gea, but Benitez made it clear the defender was going nowhere.
Ahead of Madrid's match against Manchester City in the final match of the International Champions Cup in Melbourne on Friday, Benitez said: "It's very simple, De Gea is not our player so nothing to say about him. The update about Sergio Ramos is that he is our player and he's a key player for us.
"He's the captain and I would like to see him at the beginning of the season because I think he will be crucial for us in the season."
Reports have suggested that the 29-year-old Ramos is unsettled in the capital and that he was keen to move after the Spanish club failed to offer him an extension to his contract, which expires in 2017.
Ramos scored Real's injury-time equaliser in their Champions League final win over Atletico Madrid in 2014 and has made 445 appearances for the club since joining from Sevilla in 2005. He has 128 caps for Spain and was in the starting line-up when they won Euro 2008, the 2010 World Cup and Euro 2012.
But Benitez, who took over from Carlo Ancelotti in June, suggested otherwise.
"Yes, for me (he is) 100 per cent (staying). I insist that it is clear for both me and the club that Sergio will be here.
"Football is a curious world, but Sergio will be playing for us this season," he added. "I have a lot of respect for (Manchester United manager) Louis van Gaal, but Sergio will stay with us."
Croatia midfielder and teammate Luka Modric said Ramos was an important part of the team. He said: "We hope that he stays. He's a very important part of the team. He's our captain, our leader, both on and off the pitch and he's happy where he is. He's the best defender and he wants to stay at the club."
Benitez also dismissed speculation that his relationship with Portuguese captain Ronaldo were strained.
"Luckily, I have had the opportunity this week to spend quite a few days with him," noted the Spaniard, who has coached previously at Liverpool, Inter Milan and Valencia.
"And I can say that he's competitive, he likes to win, and for that reason he is the best in the world.
"I would like all players to have that desire to win and to compete. You've all seen him train today and I think his performance will be up to scratch.
"I talk to all the players a lot. I have had the opportunity to talk to him, too. We talked about football and yes, he is competitive.
"Seeing Ronaldo up close training, I can see that he's doing very well."