Florentino Perez has said Manchester United moved to sign Gareth Bale in the summer, suggesting Bale's wish to join Real Madrid forced his move to Spain through even though the Red Devils were prepared to pay more.
Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti recently claimed an unnamed club had made a bigger bid for Bale during the summer's drawn-out transfer saga, with United, as well as Paris Saint-Germain, among those mentioned in subsequent speculation.
During an hour-long interview with Spanish radio show El Larguero on Monday, Blancos chief Perez revealed that a serious attempt by United to sign Bale had led him to make his own final move, with the Wales international's dream of playing at the Bernabeu being key.
"I believe that Tottenham truly did not want to sell him," Perez said. "We respected that they did not want to sell him. We found out at a certain moment that Manchester United were going to make an offer. That is when we made ours.
The player heard about that, and since he was small he has been a Madrid fan. His dream was to play for Madrid, and when he heard we had made a good offer for him he did everything possible to come here."
Perez again declined to say whether his club had paid the €91 million figure reported in the Spanish press or the €101 million world record fee generally accepted in the UK. But the construction magnate predicted that Madrid would make a profit on the transfer in the end -- as they always did with galacticos, no matter how high their price.
"[Bale] was cheap," Perez said. "I have not said the amount. Every time there is talk of figures, the figures which someone wants to come out are those that come out. Madrid's model is the model of Santiago Bernabeu -- to have the best players.
"That produces an important effect, both sporting and economic. I have already showed this, as in the year 2000 Madrid was in a bad situation, losing money. And signing [Luis] Figo, [Zinedine] Zidane and [David] Beckham, even though they were very expensive, we started making money. That is a model which works in business and in football, which is also a business."
Perez explained that signing big stars helped Madrid hugely improve their deals with sponsors.
"When we signed Zidane for a very big amount of money -- about €75 million -- we changed from Teka, who paid us 400 [million pesetas], to Siemens, who paid us 4,000," he said. "That was because of Zidane. Kaka was Adidas, and Cristiano [Ronaldo] was Nike.
"[Having Kaka] helped us to renew our contract with Adidas, in a very important way. It is true that we had bad luck from a sporting perspective, above all he was injured at the World Cup the next year and from there he did not give the sporting performance we expected, but from the financial point of view he helped us a lot. All these players [the galacticos] helped us to grow from €100 million in revenues to more than €500 million."
The latest big money arrival would have a similar commercial effect, he predicted. "Bale has twice been named the best player in the Premier League, he was the image of the Premier League, the trademark player," he said. "I believe he is one of the great players in the world, and that Real Madrid have this model."
Perez also revealed that Madrid's new coach Ancelotti had paid €3.5 million of his own money to smooth his move from PSG this summer.
"We paid €7 million for Ancelotti, and he paid half of that, and Madrid the other half," he said. "It is obviously a small matter among the figures we are talking about. He earns about the same as Mourinho did."