THREE years after leaving Newcastle United following relegation, Moussa Sissoko and Georginio Wijnaldum have got exactly what their talent and attitudes have deserved, says the man who sold them, Rafa Benitez.

Sissoko and Wijnaldum are due to go head-to-head in the Champions League final on Saturday night in Madrid, and they will do so with Benitez’s complete blessing.

Benitez was in his first summer as Newcastle boss when the pair were sold to Tottenham and Liverpool at a huge profit, having spent just one season together on Tyneside before relegation to the Championship.

Sissoko was sold to Spurs for a whopping £35m just 30 months after arriving from Toulouse for a bargain £1.8m and, after a slow start in North London, he has become an integral part of Mauricio Pochettino’s squad.

Wijnaldum saw the £14.5m Newcastle paid PSV Eindhoven for him in the summer of 2015 rise to the £25m Liverpool agreed to fork out a year later, leaving Benitez short of both internationals.

“It is not fair for me to talk only about Sissoko but he is in the final and I am really pleased,” said Benitez. “I am still in contact with him and Gini. They were good players for us but we were relegated and they had offers.

“Sometimes players do not get offers when they are relegated. They did and I am 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.”

Newcastle supporters know both players had the talent to succeed, but whether or not they would have expected them to go on and reach the Champions League final would be up for greater debate. Benitez wasn’t in doubt.

“The fans, they know that they are both good players,” said the Newcastle boss. “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.”

Following confirmation that Newcastle would fall out of the Premier League in 2016, Benitez had to go through a challenging period of preparing his squad for the Championship. A huge number of players didn’t want to play at that level and made it clear.

But Benitez said: “I’m telling you, three, four players (had their heads turned) ... but I can tell you these two and I will not name anyone else, they were really good professionals from day one until the last minute.

“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 good professional who kept everybody working hard so I understand the feelings of some fans who see them playing well or bad that’s one thing but both players were good professionals.”

Newcastle defender Paul Dummett, meanwhile, has had to withdraw from Wales’ European Championship qualifiers through injury. Dummett has had to remain on Tyneside rather than head away for his country to face Croatia a and Hungary because of a problem sustained against Fulham on the final day.

“Paul came off in the last game with a hamstring injury,” said Wales boss Ryan Giggs. “That’s been troubling him and he just doesn’t feel right really. With the options we’ve got, that’s why I wanted to see Ben Williams and obviously we have Neil Taylor as well. We felt we were OK not to risk Paul.”