Real Madrid were reportedly prepared to pay Liverpool £178million to hijack Barcelona’s move for Philippe Coutinho.
Barca finally landed their man for £33m less than that fee today after Coutinho completed a medical.
But Mundo Deportivo claim the transfer could have become much more complicated.
The report says Real made contact with the Brazil midfielder, 25, in a last-minute twist.
Coutinho was apparently unsure whether Los Blancos really wanted to sign him or if it was simply a ploy to increase the amount of money Barcelona were spending.
Barca expressed interest in Theo Hernandez and Dani Ceballos, prompting Real to act quickly and sign them in the summer.
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Coutinho was desperate to complete his ” dream” move to the Nou Camp.
He even paid £11.5million of his own cash to push through the deal.
The £145million ace said: “It is incredible to know I will be around idols, with players who have such a great history like Leo Messi, Luis Suarez, Andres Iniesta, Gerard Pique, Sergio Busquets — all the great players.
“To be able to play football, win titles, make the fans happy and play with a smile. These are the objectives.
“I am very happy to know I will be playing with them and I hope to be able to learn, live and win together.
“I have always said I am living a dream, we are very happy to be here.”
Coutinho will have no problem settling in having had a luxury house bought for him by Luis Suarez.
The Uruguayan was a team-mate at Liverpool before his own Barca transfer in 2014 – and is already assisting his pal off the field.
Suarez said: “As a team-mate and as a friend, I’m very happy.
“He’s going to contribute a lot to the team and everybody knows the quality that he has.
“He’s been in the elite for many years and we’ll help him to feel at home and adapt straight away.”