Philippe Coutinho is edging closer to that dream Barcelona move, with the Catalan giants set to test Liverpool’s resolve with a huge offer this month.
The Brazilian could leave for an eye-watering £130 million, with £100m offered up front, making him the second most expensive player in history.
But things could’ve been quite different for the 25-year-old, with Barca’s bitter rivals Real Madrid once coming agonisingly close to signing him 10 years ago.
According to Miguel Angel Portugal – the current manager of Indian club Delhi Dynamos and former technical director of Real Madrid – Los Blancos were heavily interested in the then-unknown Brazilian, way back in 2008.
In his blog, the former midfielder explained how the club spent a long time scouting Coutinho, who was playing for Vasco da Gama at the time.
He said: “Coutinho had already marvelled with Vasco de Gama and was a name who had been mentioned at the club.
“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.”
What was the surprise?
Well, it turns out Ramon Calderon – Madrid’s president at the time – had his own ideas, and decided to snap up another Brazilian wonderkid instead.
Portugal said: “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, they could have signed his compatriot instead.
“It is incredible but true.”
Around a week later, Coutinho moved to Inter Milan for a measly €2.5m.
We genuinely have no idea who Alipio is, so we did a little bit of digging.
After leaving the Spanish capital in 2011 – having failed to break into the first-team – he moved to Benfica, where he was loaned out a few times before joining Omonia.
Since then, he’s turned out for the likes of Apollon Smymi, Luverdense, Vitoria, Atletico Goianiense and currently Vila Nova.
And to think, they could’ve had Coutinho instead.
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