Andrea Stramaccioni reveals Inter beat Real Madrid to Mateo Kovacic in January 2013.
The midfielder did eventually reach the Bernabeu this month for €35m, but the Nerazzurri paid €11m when he was only 18 years old.
“I believe Mateo can give his best in a three-man midfield, or at least supporting a striker,” ex-Inter Coach Stramaccioni told Fox Sports Italia.
“I will reveal a little background information here. When we signed him from Dinamo Zagreb, Real Madrid were in negotiations too.
“At the time President Massimo Moratti did very well along with the directors to snatch him away from the competition.
“Kovacic is a player I wanted very much. In Italy people forget he was born in 1994 and is still young now. The fact Real Madrid paid so much is a testament to his talent.
“At that club they rarely get a purchase of this level wrong.”