Real Madrid general director Jose Angel Sanchez has confirmed Tottenham Hotspur were one of two sides to table a bid for midfielder Mateo Kovacic during the summer, but has insisted the 23-year-old is strictly not for sale.
Since making the around £28m switch from Inter in August 2015, the Austrian-born Croatia international has become an integral part of Zinedine Zidane's set up, despite being confined to the substitutes' bench for the most part. However, that was not always the case.
During his first 12 months at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium, the Dinamo Zagreb academy graduate made just eight starts for Los Blancos as he struggled to adapt to Spanish top-tier football.
But in the following campaign Kovacic solidified his place within the Real squad, starting on 19 occasions for the eventual Primera Division champions.
Due to his good form, including sensational displays during this year's trio of pre-season victories over Barcelona, there were unsurprisingly an array of sides reportedly interested in securing the midfielder's signature.
Another L for Tottenham,— 🇵🇹R (@DeadIyEden) November 29, 2017
Looks to be the end of their golden era, and what an era it was
FA Cup X0
Champions League X0
League Cup X0
Put the pressure on X2
Finished above Arsenal X1
Adding into the scenario the tough competition of Toni Kroos, Luka Modric, Casemiro, and the addition of hotly-tipped talent Dani Ceballos, there was speculation on whether Madrid would be open to parting ways with the 23-year-old.
European giants including Juventus, AC Milan, Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham were all said to be keen, and Sanchez has revealed there was truth behind that, with Spurs one of two sides to table an offer during the summer, but has insisted the player's future very much lies in Madrid.
"Kovacic is not for sale, we will never sell him", Los Blancos' general manager told Croatian news outlet Sportske Novosti.
"If there are any offers for him in January, we will reject them. Last summer there were a lot of offers and questions about him.
"Juventus and AC Milan didn’t send offers, but Inter must have sent one. There was one from England, it was Tottenham.
"Mateo is a smart guy, he knows he would have played in the starting XI in each of those teams that want him but he is aware we count on him too.
"He is one of the players the club’s future relies on."
Kovacic will be hoping to add to his just 88 minutes of competitive football for Real so far this season in the near future, after returning to training last week following his three-month spell on the sidelines due to a ruptured patella.