Details have emerged of an incredible offer that Real Madrid made Lionel Messi in 2013.
Real signed Gareth Bale from Tottenham Hotspur that summer in a world record fee but it's now being claimed that the Welsh winger wasn't the club's first choice.
Because how do you topple a team built around arguably the greatest footballer of all time? Sign that player, of course.
It's something that Real have a history in, having broken the transfer record in 2000 to sign Barcelona's reigning Ballon d'Or winner Luis Figo.
Figo was the star at Barcelona, revered by the fans and the man behind their back-to-back La Liga titles in '98 and '99.
But then Florentino Perez took over as President of Real and promptly paid the release clause of Barca's captain.
That famously didn't go down too well in Catalonia and it's safe to say that Messi swapping Camp Nou for the Santiago Bernabeu would have been even worse.
Still, Real allegedly went for it - and the offer they made was quite spectacular.
It involved a release clause, naturally, and Der Spiegel reports [via AS] that Real told Messi's father that they were willing to pay his son's - all €250 million of it.
Not that they stopped there.
The then-nine-times European Champions offered Messi €23 million per year until 2021 to betray Barca, while also claiming that they could put pressure on the Spanish Prime Minister over the Argentine's tax issues.
A meeting on a private jet between Perez, Messi, and a series of lawyers was supposedly set up - but nothing came of it.
Real denied the reports, of course, labelling them "totally false" - but then they would say that, wouldn't they?
€250 million seems an awful lot, especially back in 2013 when transfer fees were at least a little more understandable, although the assembly of a Cristiano Ronaldo/Messi super-team is probably worth that.
It would have crippled Barca and almost certainly brought in an unprecedented period of dominance for Real that we'd all probably be sick of by now.
Barcelona would happily settle for only losing Neymar to Paris Saint-Germain when confronted with this alternate history, as bad as that was for them, while Real's three Champions League trophies in four years suggest they weren't too badly hurt by missing out on their dream signing.
It's one that's firmly for the "what if?" pile - and it's probably for the best that it turned out that way.
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