Paulo Futre is one of Atletico Madrid’s greatest legends, since he gave Los Colchoneros many glory days at Vicente Calderon. However, very few fans remember that we was about to turn into a villain as he was close to signing for their arch-rivals. In the week when Real Madrid and Atletico meet again in the derby, we remember that story.
It all happened in 1993. Real was willing to dethrone Barcelona as La Liga champions, since Los Azulgranas had won three titles in a row. However, Los Blancos league start was disappointing: they suffered two losses in the first three games of the tournament. Plus, the second one was very humiliating, as Deportivo emphatically beat Los Merengues 4-0 at Riazor.
Ramon Mendoza, Real’s president at that time, thought the team needed a catalyst, and after considering firing coach Benito Floro, he thought the signing of a world-class player would boost the team’s performance.
At that point, the name of Paulo Futre appeared over the papers. The arrival of the Portuguese would certainly be a decisive move: it would mean signing a star player and turning Atletico’s idol into a Madridista.
Mendoza was fast and determined in the negotiations and reach a preliminary agreement for Futre’s transfer: paying 600 million pesetas –more than three million euros- of which 400 would go for Olympique de Marseille, the Portuguese’s club at that time, and 200 would be for the player’s salary.
However, Mendoza didn’t know that, when Atletico’s president Jesus Gil sold Futre, he had covered his back in case a situation like this could happen. Gil force Futre to sign a contract that forced him to pay 300 million pesetas if he signed for an Italian club and 500 if he signed for a Spanish club. Furthermore, Gil included another clause according to which Atletico would receive 1.000 million –six million euros- if the Portuguese signed for Real Madrid.
Maybe now these amounts might seem ridiculous, but at that time it was a lot of money. That is why Mendoza considered the possibility of bringing Futre on loan. However, the president’s assistants advised against it, as the contract signed between Gil and Futre wasn’t clear about what would happen in a loan deal.
Mendoza finally followed his assistants’ advice and forgot about the transfer. Futre’s signing for Real Madrid never took place.