Wayne Rooney has revealed just how close he came to leaving Manchester United for Barcelona, admitting that he "imagined" playing alongside Lionel Messi and Co at the Nou Camp.
The former England captain is widely regarded as one of the finest strikers of his generation, with his 253 goals in 559 United appearances seeing him become the club's all-time top goalscorer.
But his Old Trafford spell between 2004 and 2017 wasn't without controversy and the ex-Everton ace looked set to leave the club after handing in a transfer request in 2010.
There were were three clubs, namely Chelsea, Barcelona and Real Madrid, who were credited with interest for Rooney during his standoff with Old Trafford chiefs.
And the former striker was in no doubt who he was keen to join.
“I think, at the time, I was looking at clubs like Real Madrid and Barcelona," Rooney said on the UTD Podcast.
"To be honest, it was two or three days where there was communication between myself and them, or my representatives and team.
“I remember sitting down for one day and thinking ‘imagine playing in that Barcelona team – Messi, Xavi, Iniesta and Busquets’.
"And at that time Messi wasn’t playing the way he plays now, as a no.9 for instance. He was out wide.
I was thinking I could have slotted in perfectly. I could have come to the ball as well and have players running in behind.
"I remember thinking about that, but the biggest thing for me was it was sorted out – I had good conversations with David Gill to get it sorted.”
Rooney also said that he could have joined Chelsea after that request went in, but the move didn't come about in the end.
"I think it was well documented that Chelsea and Mourinho wanted to sign me," he added.
"There was Real Madrid, Barcelona and the Man City thing keeps cropping up, but there was never the option for me to go there.
"Although there were rumours on that as well, but the other three, really, were more realistic options.
"In my head, at the time, in that two-day period, I was ready to go and play in Spain.
"Ideally, I would have liked to have gone to Barcelona, but it was looking more likely to be Real Madrid than Barcelona. Chelsea were always there as well."