Valencia centre-back Ezequiel Garay has confirmed he turned down an offer from Chelsea during the summer transfer window. The former Real Madrid centre-back was recruited by Los Che on deadline day to fill the gap left by the departure of Shkodran Mustafi to Arsenal - while the Blues signed David Luiz instead.
The 29-year-old has been linked with a move to the Premier League since his days at Benfica. Manchester United were reportedly interested in his services during the summer of 2014, but he instead moved to Zenit Saint Petersburg.
Rumours about a switch to English football re-emerged in the the recent summer transfer window as United, Arsenal and Chelsea were all looking to add a centre-back to their ranks.
The Times claimed in the dying days of the transfer window that the Blues made an approach to sign the Argentinia international as Antonio Conte desperately looked to bolster his back-line, having failed in previous attempts to sign Napoli star Kalidou Koulibaly and AC Milan's Alessio Romagnoli.
Valencia local Super Deporte later claimed Chelsea stepped up negotiations to sign Garay on deadline day, making a big-money offer to convince Zenit to part ways with the player.
However, Garay decided to join Valencia in a deal worth €20m (£17.2m, $22.3m) while Chelsea signed Luiz instead. The Argentinia international defender has now confirmed the interest from the Blues was legitimate.
"Valencia bet on me a long time ago and it is a great challenge for me to be here due to the big confidence they showed in myself. [The offer] from Chelsea emerged a week before I completed the move to Valencia but Valencia had been my choice from the very first moment. I wanted to play here because of the importance of this club. I had to repayed the confidence that Valencia have showed in me," Garay revealed during an interview with Plaza Deportiva.
Meanwhile, when asked whether Roman Abramovich was in attendance in his last game with Zenit to convince him to snub Valencia for Chelsea, he said: "Honestly I don't know. I was playing and I did not see who was in the stands watching the game."