Real Madrid coach Bernd Schuster has confirmed that his club did try to prise Germany captain Michael Ballack away from Chelsea in the summer.
The 30-year-old has so far failed to hit top form with the Blues and is currently sidelined by an ankle injury, with Real continuing to monitor the situation despite struggling to match Ballack's Stamford Bridge wages.
Schuster told Kicker magazine: "Ballack has an excellent contract with Chelsea that would bust Real's salary structure.
"No player here is in that range and we didn't want to go there.
"However, the door for Michael is not closed. He has his soccer qualities and they will be there in six months as well. But it would be a financial decision."
Ballack joined Chelsea on a free transfer from Bayern Munich in the summer of 2006 and has scored seven goals in 46 appearances for Jose Mourinho's side.