Real Madrid star Marco Asensio has admitted that he was close to signing for arch-rivals Barcelona as a youngster.
Ahead of the El Clasico against Barcelona, the Real Madrid attacker stated that Barcelona were interested in him during his time at Mallorca.
Tennis star Rafael Nadal played a key role in Asensio joining Real Madrid ahead of Barcelona
Asensio, regarded as one of the most talented young footballers in Spain, said that Barcelona were one among many clubs interested in his signature.
"Yes, I could have [joined Barcelona], but also to other clubs. There are always great clubs interested who ask about your situation."
The Spain international eventually joined Real Madrid in 2014 from Mallorca for €4 million and was immediately loaned back to Mallorca, followed by a loan to Espanyol.
Asensio made his debut for Real Madrid in 2016 and has made nearly 150 appearances in all competitions, scoring 30 goals.
The 24-year has also admitted that tennis superstar Rafael Nadal played a key role in his decision, as he eventually opted to join Real Madrid ahead of Barcelona.
Nadal, a huge Real Madrid fan, was instrumental in Los Blancos signing the youngster.
"Rafa really likes football and Madrid. His uncle was part of the sports direction at Mallorca. He called and said: "There is a very good kid who has to play for Madrid". It was me and that's how it started."
Asensio has struggled with injuries in the past, particularly last season. He managed only ten appearances in all competitions, scoring three goals.
With attackers like Eden Hazard and Martin Odegaard out for the derby against Barcelona, it remains to be seen whether the forward starts for Real Madrid.
Asensio came off the bench in the 1-0 loss to Cadiz in La Liga last week and started in the embarrassing 3-2 defeat against Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League mid-week.
Barcelona and Real Madrid are both in a precarious situation, and the El Clasico will prove to be a true test for both clubs. It has been reported that Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane's job could be on the line if the downward spiral continues.
Published 24 Oct 2020, 16:18 IST