Ignored by Neymar: Bale was Real Madrid's second choice this summer

Ben Hayward | Spanish Football Writer
Ignored by Neymar: Bale was Real Madrid's second choice this summer

Real Madrid's record summer signing was actually the team's second choice. Club chief Florentino Perez set his sights on bringing in Neymar, not Gareth Bale, and only opted to recruit the Welshman after losing out to fierce rival Barcelona for the Brazilian forward.

Neymar appeared destined to play for Madrid. The South American attacker flew to Spain for a trial in 2005 as part of the agreement which saw Santos sell Robinho to the Santiago Bernabeu side and was even registered for a short time with the capital club. But red tape ruled out a move for the 14-year-old at that time and the two parties agreed to remain in contact with a view to a transfer in the future.

Madrid was sure it had its man in 2011 and even paid for medical tests with the forward in Brazil as talks reached an advanced stage, but Perez upset the player and his father by telling him he would have to fight for a place in the starting side and that he may have to spend some time on the Bernabeu bench before making a breakthrough at the capital club.

Irritated by what he perceived as an arrogant stance by Madrid, Neymar and his father chose to negotiate with Barcelona instead and by the end of the year was sold on a move to Camp Nou. However, Madrid fought until the very last minute to beat its biggest rival to the Brazilian's signature.