Real Madrid's last minute decision to insist on a transfer fee ended the club's hopes of offloading Welsh winger Gareth Bale to Jiangsu Suning, the Chinese Super League side's head coach Cosmin Olaroiu said.
Bale, who joined Madrid from Tottenham Hotspur in 2013 for a then-record fee of 100 million euros ($108.4 million), was heavily linked with a move to Jiangsu throughout last year's summer transfer window after falling down the pecking order at the La Liga side under Zinedine Zidane.
But Real's late attempt to make Jiangsu pay for Bale after originally agreeing to allow the 30-year-old to join on a free transfer saw the move collapse.
"It was very close," Olaroiu told The National newspaper in Dubai, where Jiangsu are preparing for the new Chinese Super League season.
"The club agreed with his agent, his agent was there. We agreed with Madrid and in the last month - I don't know what happened there, they lose some friendly games by a big score - Madrid changed their mind.
"First they said they would release him and we would have to pay his salary, then suddenly they said: 'No, you have to pay for the transfer'.
"And paying the transfer and his salary was a little bit over the budget and so we looked for another player.