The agent of Real Madrid defender Antonio Rudiger has admitted Los Blancos had been pursuing his signature ever since 2016.
The centre-back joined Roma in 2016 before leaving for Chelsea 12 months later, and he brought the curtain down on his career at Stamford Bridge this summer as he allowed his contract to expire and sealed a free transfer to Real.
Now, Rudiger's agent and brother, Sahr Senesie, has opened up on how the transfer came about, admitting that Real have made a handful of attempts to sign the defender over the years.
"The contact was directly with Real Madrid, with the management," he told kicker. "No complications arose as we had been in contact with the club since 2016.
"The interest materialised in 2019, before Chelsea's transfer ban came in and Antonio didn't want to force a transfer out of respect for Chelsea officials. Chelsea would not have been able to sign a replacement for him at that time."
Senesie also reflected on Chelsea's recent sanctions and how the Blues' inability to negotiate new contracts with their players contributed to Rudiger's departure.
"Initially we continued with the strategy of waiting. 'Keep calm and play good football,' I told him. But after two months of uncertainty, also in view of Chelsea's new owners and their ideas, two or three big European clubs pushed for a decision," he said.
"So we had to reassess the situation, which Toni didn't know yet. Then he communicated very clearly to his coach Thomas Tuchel that he wanted to leave after having to decide between waiting with a lot of uncertainty until maybe June or moving to Real Madrid."