Rafa Benitez still 'in contact' with Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur midfielders he sold to fund Newcastle United rebuild
Rafa Benitez says he's NOT surprised to see Moussa Sissoko and Georginio Wijnaldum in the Champions League final.
Benitez sold the pair three years ago following Newcastle United's relegation from the Premier League.
They had under-performed as the club fought relegation, first under Steve McClaren and then under Benitez, his successor.
Sissoko and Wijnaldum will line up for Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool respectively in tomorrow in Madrid.
Asked if he was surprised to see them in the final, Sissoko said: "I don't think so.
"The fans, they know that they're both good players. It depends on the environment. It depends on the moment. It depends on the situation of each player.
"You can't blame anyone – you can't blame the club, you can't blame me. You can't blame anyone, because they wanted to go because they had offers, good offers and they wanted to stay in the Premier League."
Benitez, United's manager, maintains that Sissoko and Wijnaldum were "good professionals" for him, despite deciding to leave the club long before its fate was confirmed.
"They were really good professionals from day one until the last minute," said Benitez.
"You think about one thing, who was the captain for us at this time? Sissoko. I made him the captain, because he was a really god professional who kept everybody working hard, so I understand the feelings of some fans who see them playing well or bad, but both players were good professionals.
"If you play in a very good team, it's easy. You will play better in this team."
Benitez is still "in contact" with Sissoko and Wijnaldum, who were sold at a huge profit.
"I'm still in contact with him and Gini," said Benitez. "They were good players for us, but we were relegated and they had offers.
"Sometimes players don't get offers when they are relegated. They did, and I'm telling you Sissoko had three very good ones, including one very important one.
"That is good for them because you go down and have top sides interested in you. Maybe they were not fine here, because the team was not doing well. But they have the skill and the pace.
"You cannot complain or saying anything negative about what they did here."