The Melbourne interest came after the Panthers had sacked Nathan’s father Ivan, however Cleary wasn’t enticed.
The Daily Telegraph reports that the Melbourne Storm identified Cleary as the successor to outgoing half-back Cooper Cronk at the end of 2015.
Now they face the challenge of nullifying Cleary’s influence in the biggest game of the season.
Cleary, who is a leading contender for the Dally M medal on Monday night, caught the attention of Melbourne after his father Ivan was sacked by Penrith in 2015.
At the time of asking, Melbourne officials were asked whether they would be interested in taking on Ivan in a consultancy role.
They also believed Nathan had a exit clause in his contract should his father no longer be coaching the Panthers, which was not the case.
Melbourne head of football Frank Ponissi spoke about the move for this weeks opposing half-back.
“We heard on the grapevine that he (Cleary) had a clause that may allow him to leave Penrith.”
“This was before he had played in the NRL. We made inquiries. It was very informal. He wanted to stay at Penrith and play for them.
“Fortunately for us, we landed on our feet with Jahrome (Hughes). He has been outstanding this year and we couldn’t be happier with our No 7.”