London - West Ham co-owner David Sullivan claims his Premier League club were two hours away from appointing Rafael Benitez as their new manager before he took over at Real Madrid.
Former Liverpool and Chelsea boss Benitez was on the verge of signing a deal to succeed Sam Allardyce at Upton Park earlier this year before he agreed to take charge of Spanish side Real.
West Ham were also interested in Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp, who was available during the close-season after leaving Borussia Dortmund, but ultimately settled on former Hammers defender Slaven Bilic, who had been in charge of the Croatia national team.
"We were two hours from getting Benitez and then Real came in," Sullivan told Sky Sports on Monday.
"We had agreed a contract and everything."
Benitez's reign in Madrid has been turbulent, with supporters calling for him and club president Florentino Perez to go after they were thrashed 4-0 by arch rivals Barcelona in Madrid last month.
In spite of that, Sullivan would have had no reservations about bringing Benitez to Upton Park in the future.
"He is a top manager, whatever anybody says, and I think he'd have done a wonderful job for us," Sullivan said.
"We tried (Jurgen) Klopp as well but he wouldn't come because he said he wanted a break. But I'm glad with the manager we have got."