Back in April 2011, when Gérard Houllier was his first (and only) season at Aston Villa, he had the Villains flying high, as they were heading toward a ninth-placed Premier League finish.
The former PSG, France, and Liverpool boss had numerous connections in France and had his eye on two particular stars from Ligue 1 champions Lille: Yohan Cabaye and Gervinho.
In an interview with The Athletic, Houllier revealed that he actually had deals lined up for the duo before he was forced to end his career in management due to health concerns.
“We showed [Cabaye] around Villa Park and he was looking forward to joining,” Houllier said. “He would have improved the team so much.”
Instead, Cabaye would end up joining Newcastle, where he would stay for three seasons before leaving to join PSG.
In terms of Gervinho, Houllier said his transfer was in the bag as well.
“I knew him [Gervinho] from France. He had one year left on his deal and he was coming.”
The now 72-year-old Houllier also believed that he could get Gary Cahill to return to Villa from Bolton Wanderers.
Instead, Cahill would go on to make a big name for himself at Chelsea, where he would win a total of eight trophies.
”Discussions were under way,” Houllier says. “A centre-half was a priority and we felt confident we could get him back.
“Why Aston Villa let him go in the first place, I’ll never know.”