Aston Villa boss Paul Lambert has revealed he tried to sign Southampton midfielder Dusan Tadic in January 2013, but could not complete a deal with FC Twente.
Tadic joined the Saints for a reported £10.9million in the summer and has been key in their rise to second in the Barclays Premier League.
The Serbia international will face Villa on Monday, but could well have been lining up in Villa colours.
Lambert spotted Tadic's talent while he was in Holland and wanted to bring him to the midlands.
"We tried to get Tadic here, the January before last," the Scot said. "We tried to do something, but couldn't do it.
"That's the way it goes, because he's a good player. So we've known about his talents for a while now, but we couldn't quite get it done.
"There were loads of factors which just meant we couldn't get it done.
"It was January 2013, he was at FC Twente and they were looking for a right few quid."
Southampton have won 11 of their last 12 games while Villa are winless in seven outings - losing six of them.
Villa ended the losing streak with a 0-0 draw at West Ham before the international break and must beat Saints goalkeeper Fraser Forster, who Lambert managed at Norwich.
He took the England man on loan from Newcastle before he joined Celtic and Forster helped them to promotion from Sky Bet League One in 2010.
"It doesn't surprise me with Fraser because I had him at Norwich in League One, we tried to re-sign him permanently but we couldn't do it at that time," said Lambert, with Forster having joined Saints for £10million from Celtic in the summer.
"He was pivotal to Norwich going up. I remember him making a save against Tranmere one day that I thought 'bloody hell, what a save'.
"He made saves that I thought a goalkeeper couldn't make at certain times. He's a great big guy, top class, but we couldn't do it at the time. He was one of the main players for Norwich getting up - he's a top guy."
Forster has conceded just five league goals this season, while Villa have netted only five times.
"They've started the season really well, although I'm pretty sure their bigger tests will come when they play the big ones as well," Lambert added.
"You can't take anything away from them - they've started the season well. (But) if we do what we've been doing in the last two games, we will certainly give them a game, that's for sure."