Achraf Hakimi has confessed that he did not feel completely trusted by Real Madrid in the build-up to his 2020 departure to Inter.
A graduate of Los Blancos' academy, Hakimi excelled on loan with Borussia Dortmund between 2018 and 2020 and was expected to become a Real starter upon his return. But he eventually left for Inter in a €40m deal.
Just 12 months later and Hakimi was on the move again. A €71m switch to PSG was on the cards, but only after Real declined to execute their buy-back option on the right-back.
With his current employers set to face Real in the Champions League last-16 on Tuesday, Hakimi opened up to Marca about his departure from the Santiago Bernabeu.
"Obviously, when you join Madrid for the first time and you come from playing for the Castilla (academy), it is normal that the club doesn't bet on you so much because you're a young player," he said. "But then when I left for Dortmund and had two great seasons, I had to come back and decide.
"At that point, it felt like Madrid was still not betting on me, but I knew I could continue playing at a high level. When I left for Inter, as part of the deal there was also a purchase option from Madrid and they didn't execute it, so I think they weren't betting on me as much as other clubs.
"I thought they were wrong."
Hakimi admitted that he has grown since his time with Real, praising current boss Mauricio Pochettino for helping him improve his game.
"I'm older now, I'm more mature," he said. "I have more experience. In Madrid, coming from Castilla, I didn't have experience at a high level, a professional level. Now, after having played with several big teams, they have given me experience, maturity and responsibility.
"Before I joined PSG, [Pochettino] was already in contact with me and he told me what he wanted from me and what I was going to do in the team. It gave me peace of mind, but above all, freedom to feel important and play freely, which is what makes us reach this level.
"That's what I like about the coach. He is very close to his players and gives you the responsibility."