Tragic Emiliano Sala was offered to Championship clubs for £5m last summer
In a remarkable new twist, SunSport can reveal French club Nantes tested the market by putting the price tag on him.
One Championship club, who wanted to remain anonymous, confirmed Sala was up for sale in the summer of 2018.
Six months later Cardiff agreed to make the Argentine their record signing when they struck a deal with Nantes worth £20m.
The initial fee of £15m would have been topped up at the end of the season with another £5m bonus if Sala scored the goals to keep them in the Prem.
But the huge difference in the sums will come as a surprise to Cardiff as they continue their probe into this transfer.
Sala, 28, who scored 12 goals in Ligue 1 before his switch to Cardiff, died when the plane taking him across the English Channel crashed on January 21.
Some 18 months before he signed for Cardiff he was also offered to Birmingham for just £3m.
The rocketing fee is under close scrutiny after Cardiff demanded to know where the commissions from the transfer were due to end up.
Sala had 18 months left on his contract when Cardiff boss Neil Warnock went to see him play against Marseille on December 5.
The anonymous Championship club told us: “Sala’s name was being put about last summer and he could have left Nantes for £5m.
“Whatever Cardiff agreed to pay is up to them but it’s obviously a big jump in just six months.”
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