Chelsea great Claude Makelele has revealed how he helped Real Madrid to beat the Blues to the signing of midfielder Aurelien Tchouameni.
The France international moved to the LaLiga giants in an £85million deal from Monaco last summer, which ended up enabling Real to offload long-serving star Casemiro to Manchester United.
The 22-year-old’s career took off significantly in his final two seasons in France. That then prompted a number of big European hitters to sit up and take notice.
Initially, it was thought that Chelsea had an edge on their rivals after putting in work behind the scenes.
However, Roman Abramovich’s forced exit and doubts over who would take over at that time allowed Real to jump in and secure the Frenchman.
And now Makelele, who enjoyed a five-year spell in west London, has revealed the part he played in Tchouameni’s move.
Makelele, who also spent three years playing at the Bernabeu, told AS: “When Tchouameni was about to sign for Real, I spoke with Florentino [Perez] and he wanted to know more about him.
“Chelsea were also interested. But if Madrid love you, you should go because it’s the best way to be at your best.”
Chelsea midfield issue on the horizon
While losing Tchouameni will have come as a blow, Chelsea also have some major midfield decisions to make surrounding their current stars.
Both N’Golo Kante and Jorginho are out of contract in the summer and expected to move on.
Kante has already rejected a new deal, with the Frenchman holding out for a three-year contract.
Tottenham boss Antonio Conte is said to be eyeing up a reunion with the 31-year-old, who has previously stated that the played his best football at Chelsea under the Italian.
He said: “With Antonio Conte in the period we won more than 10 games in a row.
“At that time when we were going on the pitch we were very confident. The team were playing very well. We managed to dominate our opponents and to win.
“I felt very good on the pitch. That was a beautiful time.”
However, the fact that Kante has been sidelined with injury for four months may cause a rethink for the Italian.
As for Jorginho, the Italy international continues to be linked with a return to his homeland.
AC Milan have been mooted as a potential destination, although Barcelona are also rumoured to be interested.