“I asked the club to buy him last season but it was not possible.”
Those were the words of former Real Madrid manager Jose Mourinho, revealing he wanted to bring Gareth Bale to the Bernabeu last year.
So why didn’t he? Why wasn’t it possible? And why are Madrid suddenly in possession of the finances to secure the Welshman?
In light of their recent spending, the final question is perhaps the most difficult to answer. Having signed cheques totalling £63.8million for Asier Illarramendi, Isco, Daniel Carvajal and Casemiro, the money being suggested for Bale hasn’t suddenly been found down the back of the sofa.
Carlo Ancelotti has gone a long way to recouping funds with the sales of Gonzalo Higuain, Raul Albiol, Jose Maria Callejon and Pedro Leon.
But with Tottenham reportedly holding out for a cash-only fee that usurps the world record, could another player be on his way out the door?
In short, was signing Bale last season impossible for more than one reason?
Is the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo a necessity to allow the Welshman’s arrival – not just in the funds it will generate, but in the position he will vacate on the pitch?
Real were said to be considering a bid for Bale last January – a move that would never have happened given Tottenham’s pursuit of a Champions League place.
If that is the move to which Mourinho is referring, it is no surprise it failed to materialise.
And yet Bale’s seemingly imminent departure may be the first domino of many, prompting Ronaldo to move to Manchester United and for them in turn to sell Wayne Rooney to Chelsea.
It is all speculation, as so much is at this time of year.
But Mourinho’s latest comments reveal two things – firstly that he wants the world to know he had the idea first; and secondly that something has changed at the Bernabeu to transform a speculative offer into a realistic one.
Perhaps that change was Mourinho’s departure. Perhaps Real knew he was on his way and wanted the marquee signing to come when his successor was in place.
So although it may have been his idea, another man looks set to take the credit and reap the rewards.
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