Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has revealed that he was among those chasing French starlet Florian Thauvin in January.
The highly-rated playmaker burst onto the scene at Bastia and quickly became a target for top clubs across Europe.
Wenger has returned to his homeland for players of promise on a regular basis, and was keen on adding Thauvin to the Emirates Stadium ranks.
He was, however, to be pipped at the transfer post by Lille - who landed the youngster on a four-year deal.
They were also to be left frustrated, though, as Thauvin then went AWOL over the summer in an effort to force through a switch to Marseille.
The 20-year-old is now being tipped for the very top of the game, with Wenger of the opinion that his potential will continue to be unlocked at Stade Velodrome.
He said in the Daily Mirror: "It was a surprise transfer for me. We were following him and were interested in him before he joined Lille.
"He is one of the big prospects of French football. He will go higher. He's only 20.
"His progress now will not depend on his talent, but on his mentality. Only the future will tell us."