REAL MADRID reportedly came close to signing Raheem Sterling in a sensational summer transfer earlier this year before losing out to Chelsea.
Sterling, 27, left Manchester City to join Chelsea in a £50million transfer in July.
However, according to Spanish outlet AS, he almost signed for Real Madrid instead.
Shortly after Man City agreed to sell him, Sterling was offered to the La Liga champions.
While Real Madrid chiefs were keen on the move, they were also aware that it was impossible to complete because all three of their non-EU player spots had already been filled by Brazilian trio Eder Militao, Vinicius Jr and Rodrygo.
This also prevented then-Man City star Gabriel Jesus from joining the club.
As a result, Sterling swapped the Etihad for Stamford Bridge while Jesus made a £45m move to Arsenal.
Despite already missing out on two key signings, Real Madrid were handed a huge boost on Friday as Vinicius, Rodrygo and Militao were all granted Spanish citizenship.
All three non-EU player spots are now free as a result.
Real Madrid fans are now convinced that this opens up the opportunity for the club to sign Jude Bellingham from Borussia Dortmund.
HOW TO GET FREE BETS ON FOOTBALL
The Spanish giants are confident that they will win the transfer race for the 19-year-old next summer despite facing competition from the likes of Man City, Manchester United and Liverpool.
Bellingham has scored nine goals in 19 appearances for Borussia Dortmund so far this season.