Former Sevilla goalkeeper Yassine Bono has confessed that he came close to joining Real Madrid before completing a move to Al-Hilal.
The 32-year-old joined the Riyadh-based outfit for an undisclosed fee over the summer, but reports from Spanish media suggest the Saudi Pro League club paid around €20 million to get the deal over the line.
Bono has enjoyed a terrific start to life in the Middle East, recording three wins and two clean sheets in his first three appearances.
Before his move to Al Hilal, Bono was a target for Spanish giants Madrid, who were in the market for a new goalkeeper after Thibaut Courtois suffered an anterior cruciate ligament injury.
The Morocco international claimed he was Madrid’s ‘first choice’ to replace his Belgian counterpart, but the prospect of participating in the upcoming Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) scuppered a potential deal.
“That’s what I understand,” Bono said in an interview (via Marca).
“Afterwards, the board analysed the situation, saw that I could go to the African Cup and miss a lot of games in an important month for [Real] Madrid and it wasn’t possible.
“In addition, they had other options that could manage at the transfer level that suited them better.”
After pulling out of the race to sign Bono, Madrid turned their attention to Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga, landing the Spaniard’s signature on a season-long loan.
Arrizabalaga revealed that Chelsea manager Mauricio Pochettino had invited him to remain at Stamford Bridge, having been informed he would be the first-choice goalkeeper despite Robert Sanchez’s arrival.
The 28-year-old also stated that he was agonisingly close to a reunion with former boss Thomas Tuchel at Bayern Munich, with the German champions also keen on his services.
However, he was powerless to turn down the chance to feature for Madrid when the record European champions came calling.
“It is true that Pochettino wanted me to stay, and he told me that he was going to play, that he trusted me,” he told Marca.
“But I thought that a change would be good for me. He [Tuchel] called me – we were close to going to Munich. Due to circumstances such as the injury, unfortunately, of a teammate, the possibility arose.
“It is also true that although I did not play with him, the call reinforces a little that a coach, if in the first stage you have not played with him at all, then claims you or wants you on his team, this makes you feel good.
“In the end, when [Real] Madrid calls you, there are few things to think about. I am very good in the team. I already knew quite a few colleagues.”
- Ineffective Man Utd star should be dropped for Burnley clash
- Daniel Levy open to selling Tottenham stake in Tottenham for ‘the right money’
- FIFA Rankings: Argentina retain top spot ahead of France, Brazil & England, Germany continue to fall
- Neil Warnock departs Huddersfield Town after draw with Stoke City
- Sociedad’s dominance, Inzaghi’s questionable decisions, Martinez comes up clutch – Takeaways from Inter Milan’s draw vs Real Sociedad