Manchester United were prepared to offer more than the £86 million that Real Madrid paid Tottenham Hotspur for Gareth Bale last summer, according to the Welsh winger's agent Jonathan Barnett.
Goal.com carries quotes from the 25-year-old's representative - taken from an interview with Spanish newspaper AS - which claim the Premier League giants would've broken the world record transfer fee themselves if it meant getting Bale to Old Trafford.
However, so strong was the former Spurs star's desire to move to the Santiago Bernabeu that he snubbed advances from the Red Devils in order to secure a high-profile switch to La Liga.
"It was one of the biggest [transfers]," reflected Barnett. "And that one is an honour for me, because I knew Gareth when he was so young and I could make his dream real.
"He always wanted to play for Real Madrid. He could have signed with [Manchester] United or other teams, but he wanted Madrid."
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Asked specifically about Manchester United's offer soon after the appointment of David Moyes at Old Trafford, Barnett confirmed that the offer did in fact exceed the one made by Los Blancos.
"Not much more, but more," he added.
The Red Devils ended up enduring a disastrous transfer window last summer, missing out on a host of other targets identified by Sir Alex Ferguson's successor, and ended up rushing through a deadline day deal for one of Moyes' former players at Everton, Marouane Fellaini.
This summer has been a significantly more successful recruitment process under the new tutelage of Louis van Gaal, but any hopes he might have of one day luring Bale back to England are optimistic at best, because of his rapidly increasing reputation as one of the world's best players.
"I'm sure that he will be the best player in the world" - Jonathan Barnett on Gareth Bale
In fact, Barnett is adamant that if the Southampton academy product continues developing at his current rate, then it's only a matter of time before he rivals the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi and wins the FIFA Ballon d'Or.
"I'm sure that he will be the best player in the world," he insisted. "He will win the Ballon d'Or. He's 25 years old! I told the president and Jose Angel Sanchez and they laughed. They don't laugh much now."
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