Cristiano Ronaldo has revealed that he had “several offers to leave Real Madrid” before deciding to link up with Juventus in a €100 million (£90m/$114m) deal.
As the Portuguese was sending records tumbling in the Spanish capital, while taking his collection of Ballons d’Or and Champions League crowns to five apiece, a move elsewhere appeared unlikely.
That had been hints that a switch could be made, but the Blancos were expected to retain the services of an iconic figure and do everything in their power to prevent an exit.
The doors at the Santiago Bernabeu were, however, swung open over the summer and Ronaldo packed his bags for Italy.
Alternative options were on the table for the 33-year-old but he claims Turin was always his preferred destination, telling Corriere dello Sport: “I had several offers to leave Madrid.
“I’ll never say which ones, but Juventus are a solid club. They have so much history. Two Champions League finals, seven league titles...
“I knew the atmosphere of their stadium. I’d played in Italy several times before, a couple of times against Juventus.
“I felt a connection and then everything else.
“I couldn’t be 100 per cent sure that I was joining the best club in the world, given I spent nine years at Real Madrid, but I’m 100 per cent sure I made the right decision at the right time.”
Ronaldo has been fortunate enough to represent some of the biggest clubs on the planet, with his remarkable career having taken him from Sporting to Juve via Manchester United and Madrid.
He has had to shape his game to meet the demands of different environments but insists he feels settled at the Allianz Stadium after being welcomed with open arms.
“Juve are different to everyone else in many ways, even in the way they treat me. Small details make a big difference,” added Ronaldo.
“However, I prefer to emphasise similarities. Manchester United, Real and Juve are the top teams in their respective countries, but here the roads are divided.
“Italian teams, for example, tend to defend more on the field, while things are much more relaxed away from football in Spain.
“In Italy, the concentration, dedication and commitment are greater. At the end of the day, the level is similar.”
Ronaldo has already recorded 11 goals for Juventus this season, leaving those who missed out on his services to reflect on what could have been.
AC Milan have admitted that they were in the market for a much sought-after signature at one stage, while a return to Old Trafford and a possible switch to Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain were mooted before the Bianconeri got their man.