Philippe Coutinho is on the brink of completing his dream move to join FC Barcelona. However, the Brazilian playmaker could have been playing for Real Madrid had Los Blancos not turned their attention to his compatriot, Alípio, back in 2008.
Real Madrid's former technical director, Miguel Angel Portugal, has claimed that Coutinho was on the verge of moving to the Spanish capital before the club instead decided to sign Alípio - a promising 16-year-old from the Rio Ave youth system.
Don’t let Coutinho transfer saga distract you from the fact that Real Madrid lost a league clasico at home 3-0 against one of the most average Barca sides.— Julian (@ElaficionadoFC) January 6, 2018
"Coutinho had already marvelled with Vasco de Gama and was a name who had been mentioned at the club," Miguel Angel Portugal claimed, as quoted by Marca.
"All of the reports about him were favourable and looked promising to sign him and the decision was made to bring him to Real Madrid.
"I personally went to Rio de Janeiro to watch him train and play, to talk with his parents and, of course, hold a meeting about joining our club.
"Everything was going well and everything was perfect and it seemed that things were going to work out for everyone, but when I returned from Brazil I found a surprise waiting for me.
"The president, Ramon Calderon, told me that we had signed Alípio, a 16-year-old who they had watched with Rio Ave and who the scouts found to be a very interesting player."
Alípio, now 25, completed a free transfer to Benfica after two unsuccessful years with Real Madrid. However, even the Águias weren't able to unlock his potential and after spells in the UAE, Cyprus and Greece, Alípio eventually returned to Brazil in 2015.