Real Madrid president Florentino Perez has said the Spanish giants would have had to pay more than 150million euros to bring Neymar to the Bernabeu.
Madrid had long been linked with a move for Neymar but this week lost out to arch rivals Barcelona in the hunt for the Brazil ace.
Perez has admitted his admiration for the 21-year-old but revealed the cost of signing the striker would have ultimately meant smashing the world-record transfer fee they paid for Cristiano Ronaldo.
"Three years ago we had the chance to sign Neymar and we tried to take advantage of it. Then Santos didn't allow him to leave," said Perez during a wide-ranging interview with Spanish radio station Cadena Ser.
"He seems a magnificent player to me. If I could've signed him without changing the structure of the club, I would've done it, but there were a lot of conditions.
"It would have come out at more than 150million euros for us. I've no idea how much Barcelona have paid."
Madrid may have lost out in the race for Neymar, but Perez is determined to ensure they do not lose Ronaldo as well.
There has been plenty of speculation about the Portugal international's future with Madrid but Perez said: "He told me in the summer that he was sad and I told him that we will do everything possible to make him happy because for us he's the best player in the world.
"I think Cristiano is the best in the world, we want to build the Madrid of the future around him and I would like Cristiano to be the best paid player in the world.
"I don't know if he has an offer from PSG."
Perez, who is looking to be re-elected as Madrid president in the coming weeks, was giving little away with regards which players will be leaving the club this summer, or which ones might be coming in.
He was also coy on the likely replacement for outgoing coach Jose Mourinho, whose three-year reign at the Bernabeu will come to an end following this weekend's final round of Primera Division matches.
Mourinho has led the club to three trophies during his tenure but his stint at the club has been a turbulent one with a series of controversial incidents seeing him create plenty of negative headlines.
The Portuguese was punished by UEFA for implying Barcelona were given special treatment by European football's governing body following an ill-tempered Champions League semi-final, and was also hit with a ban from the Spanish federation after appearing to poke then Barca assistant coach Tito Vilanova in the eye during a Spanish Supercopa match.
Mourinho has also been in the news due to some outspoken comments, supposed rifts with players, and dropping long-serving goalkeeper Iker Casillas.
However, Perez came out in defence of the Portuguese, suggesting some things had been blown out of proportion.
The Madrid chief said: "I don't think there's been any (player) mutiny against Mourinho. We started the season with a little less hunger and that produced a reaction from the the coach to motivate the players, because we hadn't started how we must.
"This squad is the most united I've seen since 2000. I've only heard the players speak well of Mourinho, telling me he was the best professional they've had as a coach."
He added: "Mourinho has recognised what he's done wrong. What happens is that everything he does takes on global significance.
"Everybody has the right to make a mistake.
"There are stories that surround Madrid which are not true. There are many people who want to make themselves famous at the expense of criticising Madrid."