Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho has revealed how he came close to signing Shinji Kagawa at Real Madrid, but saw the deal break down because he was unable to guarantee the Manchester United playmaker regular first-team football.
In an interview with a Japanese publishing company, the Portuguese tactician explained that he was a huge fan of the former Borussia Dortmund star, during his time at the Santiago Bernabeu.
However, the Blues boss admitted that his preference to play Arsenal's Mesut Ozil in the No.10 role at Real Madrid, scuppered any chance of securing Kagawa's signature, with the Japan international opting instead for a transfer to Old Trafford.
"It was not being able to always play at Real Madrid [that scuppered the deal]," Mourinho is quoted saying by thepeoplesperson.com. "My first choice at the time was Mesut Ozil.
"I told him [Kagawa] honestly without hiding it."
Incidentally, the 24-year-old has found himself in a similar situation at Manchester United, enduring a difficult debut season with the Premier League champions in 2012/13, and continuing to be played out of position by David Moyes in the early part of this campaign.
Kagawa has made no secret of his desire to be moved in from the wings into a more central attacking role, but is being forced to bide his time, as he plays second-fiddle to Wayne Rooney.
It remains to be seen how much longer the Japan international will settle for a peripheral role in the Manchester United first-team, before he pushes for another transfer.
Even more intriguingly, Kagawa's unhappiness could spark renewed interest from long-term admirer Mourinho, and prompt Chelsea to attempt to lure the player to Stamford Bridge.