Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has admitted he made a mistake in passing up on the opportunity to sign Gareth Bale before he joined Tottenham.
Spurs snapped up the Welshman from the south coast club in 2007 for just £7 million pounds.
Five years on and after Bale scooped both PFA Player and Young Player of the Year awards for his spectacular form in 2012/13, Real Madrid are said to be contemplating a world record £85 million bid to take him to the Bernabeu.
Arsenal signed Bale's fellow Southampton academy graduate Theo Walcott in 2006 and eyed a move for the forward but never firmed up their interest in him - something Wenger says he has come to regret.
"Yes [we looked into buying him]. But we didn't take him because we had Ashley Cole and [Gael] Clichy and we didn't want to add another left-back, but I must honestly confess it was a huge mistake," Wenger told Al Jazeera Sport.
"[He's a special player] because he can play left midfield, but he struggled at the start and at some stage, the noises I heard, Tottenham were ready to sell him.
"But they moved him to left midfield and he did incredibly well."
Bale bagged 21 Premier League goals for Spurs this season - but his impressive tally wasn't enough as Arsenal beat their fierce rivals to 4th spot and Champions League qualification by a single point.