Arsenal were on the verge of securing a deal for Eden Hazard two years ago before Chelsea entered the fray, Arsene Wenger has confirmed.
The Belgian playmaker caught the eye of the Gunners boss during his scintillating five year spell with Ligue 1 outfit Lille, where he scooped the league's player of the season award twice before his 22nd birthday.
Manchester United were also desperate to strike a deal with Lille but Hazard revealed he had chosen Stamford Bridge as his next destination following the Blues' Champions League triumph in Munich.
Wenger, who believes the 23-year-old can go on to match the feats of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, admits Hazard was one of his primary transfer targets but was unable to raise the cash needed to match Chelsea's £32m offer.
"Yes, I wanted to take him, I had his agent at my home but again the barrier was financial and Chelsea made an effort that I couldn't make," Wenger told beIN Sports. "He can be one of the players who grows into the Messi, Ronaldo stature if he continues to develop well."
Wenger also shed some light on where he sees himself in management post-Arsenal. The Frenchman is out of contract at the Emirates Stadium this summer but is largely expected to sign a new deal in the coming weeks.
While he has never entertained the idea of leaving north London, Wenger has often been linked with the Real Madrid job and more recently the role at Paris Saint-Germain. But the 64-year-old has indicated his next possible destination could very well be in the Bundesliga.
"If I was to go somewhere then I think it would be in a different country because I am so much Arsenal that I would not like to coach anywhere else in England.
"Germany (is an option) because I am of German culture a little bit and it's a country where I have never worked and I am very close to it."