David Moyes has reflected on his attempts to sign Gareth Bale for Manchester United, and declared the Wales winger could have been an Old Trafford great.
Real Sociedad manager Moyes comes up against Bale on Saturday, when his side travel to the Bernabeu to face La Liga leaders Real Madrid.
The Champions League winners bought Bale from Tottenham for a world-record 85 million pounds in 2013, but only after competition from Moyes, who had been appointed United manager the same summer.
"When I got the job, I thought Gareth Bale would have been a super Manchester United player," he told The Sun.
"I thought he had that look about him that you expect to see in Manchester United players. He was someone we were really interested in but he had his heart set on Real Madrid."
After failing to get Bale, Moyes eventually signed Marouane Fellaini from his former club Everton but remembers that, while at Goodison Park, he was successful in stifling the Welshman.
"We always did a pretty good job against him with Phil Neville and Seamus Coleman, they were a bit of a tag team," he added. "We had to make sure we had a couple of players on him."
Bale says playing in a side filled with other attacking superstars such as Cristiano Ronaldo, James Rodriguez and Karim Benzema means he has more space to perform than when he played in England and was the main focus of attention for opposition teams.
"One bonus about playing for Real Madrid is the opportunities the team creates," he told English magazine Sport. "In the Premier League, some teams had started to double-up, even triple-up on me. It's not impossible to deal with, but I'd have to adjust my position or my play.
"Now, if a team were to double-up on Cristiano or to double-up on me, it just gives space for one of the others. It makes it really hard to defend against us, because we always have someone who'll take advantage."
The Wales international was included in the 23-man longlist for the 2014 Ballon d'Or trophy, which was awarded to Ronaldo. Bale said being acclaimed as the world's best player was something he could see in his own career someday.
"Being nominated shows that you're doing something right on the football pitch and people are seeing it as well," Bale said. "I hope that in the future I can be one of the favourites to win it. But at the moment, I'm on the right track, progressing well. Hopefully I can get to the top one day."
In the short-term Bale is targeting the retention of Madrid's long-awaited 10th Champions League trophy -- La Decima -- something no club has done since AC Milan back in 1990.
"As much as we wanted to win it for La Decima we're equally hungry to retain it," he said. "Whichever tournament we're going into, whether we've won it in previous years or not, we want to win it. We'll be trying our best to do it, and I believe that we can."
Bale says coach Carlo Ancelotti has on occasion read the riot act when Real Madrid's superstars have deserved it.
Ancelotti has famously brought a calming presence to the Bernabeu dressing-room after the turbulence of Jose Mourinho's three years in charge, and the more relaxed atmosphere around the club is often credited with helping deliver La Decima in his first season in charge.
Asked if the usually even-tempered Italian had ever lost his cool in the dressing-room, Bale added: "Yeah, a few times actually. We've had some games where we've been in the lead and we've almost given it away -- and after the game, Carlo has given us a good bollocking. But every good manager needs that side to him -- and he's shown over the years what a great manager and what an amazing person he is."
ESPN FC correspondent Dermot Corrigan contributed to this report.