Sergio Ramos claims he belatedly accepted a contract offer from Real Madrid but then the club withdrew it, resulting in his impending departure. Madrid confirmed on Wednesday that the club was to host a farewell news conference and ceremony for Ramos the following day, with his future, finally resolved.
The 35-year-old's contract was due to expire at the end of June and speculation had long been stirring about what would come next for Ramos, with 2020-21 a difficult one for him due to injuries and illness.
For several weeks there had been rumours suggesting Ramos had decided to leave, with the reports generally claiming Madrid were unwilling to meet his contract demands.
It was said Ramos wanted a two-year deal but Madrid would only offer him a one-year extension – at the same time, it was claimed his former club Sevilla had offered a contract until 2026.
While stories about such an offer from Sevilla have since gone quiet, Ramos has now given his side of the story in public, accusing Madrid of withdrawing their offer.
Speaking in a farewell news conference, Ramos said: "A lot has happened. I never wanted to leave, my first choice was to stay.
"I got offered a contract extension but because of the COVID pandemic, we didn't really talk until the last few months.
"I received an offer, a one-year contract with a salary cut. The money wasn't an issue, I got offered a one-year deal and I wanted a two-year contract.
"I'm going to insist it was never a financial issue. We had conversations since and I accepted finally the offer and the club informed me that the offer was no longer there."
He continued: "I didn't know the offer had an expiry date. I've signed many over the years. I respect the club decision but I was surprised the offer was no longer on the table as we'd had meetings and chats.
"I don't know why it was no longer there. I wasn't informed. When negotiating you ask for something at the start and you keep negotiating, but I wasn't told the offer had an expiry date."
Speculation regarding his next destination has, understandably, gone into overdrive since his Madrid departure was revealed.
Manchester City, Manchester United, Paris Saint-Germain, Sevilla and even Barcelona have been mentioned as potential suitors.
While Ramos revealed little about his plans, a move to Barcelona is out of the question and a return home to Sevilla appears unlikely, perhaps partly down to the animosity between the centre-back and the club's supporters since his departure.
"We've yet to look at other clubs," he continued. "In January I could negotiate with other clubs, we received calls, but I never wanted to leave. I was honest and we'd not looked.
"But now we are going to look for a good club. I enjoyed my time at Sevilla, it's my boyhood club.
"The only thing I would change would have been doing a press conference in Seville before joining this club, which was the best decision of my career.
"But I don't think Sevilla are looking at Sergio Ramos and I don't think I am looking at Sevilla."
As for Barca, he added: "No, I wouldn't sign for Barca. Impossible."
While Ramos' declarations may not go down well with the Madrid hierarchy, he assured that he and president Florentino Perez retain a strong relationship.
"I've a good relationship with Perez, a father-son relationship, and I have to thank him for the opportunity [to play for Madrid]," Ramos said.
"I've had so much fun here in the 16 years. Even in the best of families there are arguments, fallouts.
"The hug we just shared – I'm not bitter, you learn to mature and I stay with the positives. We've enjoyed some amazing years here, but I like to tell the truth, I've always been that way."