Former Real Madrid technical director Miguel Angel Portugal has claimed that the Spanish giants turned down the opportunity to sign Liverpool star Philippe Coutinho for just £2 million.
The former Madrid chief has claimed that Los Blancos were interested in the Brazil international before his move to Inter Milan in 2008 but eventually cooled their interest.
Coutinho has since come to be regarded as one of the best midfielders in world football.
He is expected to join Barcelona in the near future in a deal which is expected to be worth more than £130 million.
“Coutinho had already marvelled with Vasco de Gama and was a name who had been mentioned at the club,” Portugal told Spanish newspaper Marca.
“All of the reports about him were favourable and looked promising to sign him and the decision was made to bring him to Real Madrid.
“I personally went to Rio de Janeiro to watch him train and play, to talk with his parents and, of course, hold a meeting about joining our club.
“Everything was going well and everything was perfect and it seemed that things were going to work out for everyone.
“But when I returned from Brazil I found a surprise waiting for me.
“The president Ramon Calderon told me that we had signed Alipio, a 16-year-old who they had watched with Rio Ave and who the scouts found to be a very interesting player.
“For essentially the same price that Real paid for Alipio [€2.5m], they could have signed his compatriot instead. It is incredible but true.”