Luka Modric has revealed he held talks with Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich in 2011 over a possible transfer from Tottenham.
The Croatia international starred for Tottenham in the 2010-11 campaign - their first in the Champions League - and was strongly linked with a move away.
He admitted at the time he was interested in a switch to London rivals Chelsea but Spurs were said to have knocked back a £22 million offer at the time.
Modric was fully aware of Chelsea's attempts to sign him and, nearly a decade on, he has opened up on the conversation he held with Abramovich on the billionaire's yacht.
"With the 2010-11 Premier League season over, I was ready for my summer vacation," he wrote in Luka Modric: My Autobiography, which is being serialised by The Guardian.
"But it didn't last long, as my agents - Vlado Lemic and Davor Curkovic - passed on Chelsea's wish to sign me.
"I was open to the idea of moving, but then things happened at lightning speed. First, [my wife] Vanja and I took a private jet from Zadar to Cannes, where my management team were waiting.
"It was all very exciting. Twenty or so people, who seemed part of the security detail, met us at the boat. It was quick and well organised; just as we made ourselves comfortable on one of the luxury decks, Abramovich showed up.
"He was accompanied by his wife Dasha and their son. I was fascinated by the discreet disappearance of all the security people just as he arrived. It was obvious they were well trained - their timing was perfect.
"He wasn't beating around the bush and said: 'We know you are a quality player. I'd like you to sign for Chelsea'. I had come to his yacht to talk, so it was evident I wished the same."
Modric added: "My feeling was that it was time for a move - I wanted to fight for trophies and win titles, and I felt this wouldn't happen if I stayed at Tottenham. I wanted to move to a more ambitious club.
"'Do you think Tottenham will resist your transfer? Are they going to put up a fight?' Abramovich asked. 'I think the negotiations are going to be tough', I replied, because I knew the clubs were not on good terms."
Modric stayed put at Tottenham for another season before being granted a move to Real Madrid, where he has spent the past eight years and won the Ballon d'Or in 2018.
"I didn't know if and when [Tottenham chairman Daniel] Levy would agree to sell me," he said.
"But I was convinced it was time to move on, to a new and bigger challenge. After four wonderful years, during which we felt at home in England, Vanja and I knew this life had come to an end."