Marco Asensio rejected the chance to become Real Madrid's new number seven, before the shirt was handed to Mariano when he re-joined the club from Lyon last week.
That is according to Julio Maldonado, a contributor for COPE and AS, who claims that the shirt vacated by Cristiano Ronaldo was first offered to Spanish midfielder Asensio.
"Real Madrid offered Marco Asensio the number 7 and the player said no," said Maldonado (via El Partidazo de COPE. "The club signed Mariano and the striker did choose to carry the number that Cristiano wore."
Clubs are often hesitant to reassign an iconic shirt number so soon after the departure of its previous incumbent - for example, the Liverpool number 8 shirt once worn by Steven Gerrard was unused for three years before Naby Keita took it recently.
But in their efforts to show that they could move on from Ronaldo, it seems that Real were eager to appoint a new number 7 within weeks of the Portugal star's transfer to Juventus.
It would have been a huge honour for Asensio, who has become one of Real's most important players in the two years since he joined from Mallorca, but he chose to stick with his current number 20.
Instead, Mariano took the famous shirt as he returned to the Spanish capital just one year after leaving to join Lyon, for whom he scored 21 goals last season.