Carles Puyol has recently announced one of the most surprising news of the year in La Liga: on June 30th he will leave Barcelona after having spent his whole career at the club. However, very few remember that the Catalan defender could have signed for Real Madrid back in 2004.
At that time, Los Blancos were looking for a centre-back, and after ruling Ricardo Carvalho out due to the excessive price Oporto was asking for, they decided to look at other options.
One of those possibilities was the signing of Carles Puyol. Spanish sports newspaper As reported Madrid was upset for being forced to sell Samuel Eto’o to Barcelona, since they had his rights shared with Mallorca, and Los Merengues wanted to hit back at the Azulgranas with that move, reinforcing one of the team’s weakest lines.
The transfer was approved by Jose Antonio Camacho, Real’s manager at that time, who knew Puyol well as he had given the defender his debut with Spain’s national team and had taken him to the World Cup of 2002. Thus, Madrid made the 26-year-old an offer, doubling the 4.8 million euros he was earning at Barcelona.
Yet, Puyol declined the offer, stating that he would not negotiate with Real unless they reached an agreement with Barca, something that never happened. Joan Laporta, the president of Barcelona back then, confirmed the offer in an assembly that summer, although he never mentioned Madrid.
“It is fair to recognise Carles commitment to Barcelona. We can be proud of our captain. Puyol rejected an offer that doubled his salary. It was a few days ago, when we were about to close Etoo’s deal. I think there’s no need for me to say which club Puyol said no to,” Laporta said.
Real Madrid had ruled Puyol’s signing out two years before
However, that was not the only occasion in which Puyol could have joined Real Madrid. In an interview with Spanish daily As, Zoran Vekic, football agent, admitted that Los Blancos had dismissed Puyol’s signing back in 2002 because they thought he was “too expensive.”
“It was during Japan and Korea’s World Cup. Puyol told Fernando Hierro he fancied the idea of moving to the Santiago Bernabeu. Hierro spoke to Jorge Valdano about it, but the player’s buy-out clause was 24 million euros and the Argentinian replied that was too much for a centre-back,” Vekic confessed.