A former Real Madrid star has claimed that the Spanish giants stopped him from playing for Argentina in the 2014 FIFA World Cup final against Germany.
Albiceleste star Angel Di Maria, who did not play a single minute in the 1-0 loss to Die Mannschaft four years ago, has revealed how Los Blancos sent him a letter saying that the thigh injury he picked up in the quarter-finals of the tournament was too severe for him to risk playing in the final.
In an article titled "In the Rain, in the Cold, in the Dark" the 30-year-old wrote for The Players' Tribune, the Paris Saint-Germain star recalled what happened.
"I remember getting the letter from Real Madrid and tearing it up before I even opened it," Di Maria wrote.
"It was the morning of the 2014 World Cup final, at exactly 11am, and I was sitting on the trainer's table about to get an injection in my leg. I had torn my thigh muscle in the quarter-finals, but with painkillers, I could run without feeling anything.
"I told our trainers these exact words: 'If I break, then let me keep breaking. I do not care. I just want to be able to play.'
"So, I was putting ice on my leg when our team doctor, Daniel Martínez, came into the room holding this envelope, and he said 'Look, Angel, this paper came from Real Madrid.' I said, 'What are you talking about?' He said 'Well, they are saying you are not in any condition to play. So, they are forcing us not to let you play today.'
"I immediately knew what was happening. Everybody had heard the rumours that Real wanted to sign James Rodriguez after the World Cup, and I knew that they were going to sell me to make room for him. So, they did not want their asset to be damaged. It was that simple. That is the business of football that people do not always see.
"I told Daniel to give me the letter. I did not even open it. I just ripped it into pieces.
"I treated myself with an injection before the match and again during the second half so that I would be ready to play if I was called from the bench. But the call never came. We lost the World Cup – and I could not control anything. It was the most challenging day of my life.
"After the match, the media were saying ugly things about why I did not play. However, what I am telling you is the absolute truth."
Di Maria will be hoping Argentina make their second successive World Cup final in 2018, but first they will need to beat Nigeria and hope Iceland do not beat Croatia if they are to stand any chance of progressing to the round of 16 in Russia.
Do you think the PSG star will get his shot to play in the showpiece's final this year if Argentina somehow make it? Have your say in the comments section below.