Valencia defender Aymen Abdennour says he turned down the chance to sign for Chelsea during the summer transfer window.
Abdennour, 26, left Monaco in the final week of the transfer window to join Valencia, but there were no shortage of clubs interested in his services. The Tunisia international enjoyed an impressive season with the Ligue 1 club, particularly in the Champions League, where his performances at the heart of defence helped his side eliminate Arsenal.
It was Chelsea who emerged with the strongest interest, however, after the club failed in their repeated attempts to sign John Stones from Everton. A report from the Daily Telegraph at the time claimed Jose Mourinho had identified Abdennour as his alternative to Stones and pushed for the club to bring him to Stamford Bridge late on in the transfer window.
The Daily Mail would later claim Chelsea baulked at the defender's £15m ($22.8M) release clause however and Abdennour has since confirmed that may have been the case, telling Valencia-based newspaper Super Deporte: "Yes, it is true that there was Chelsea interest."
Abdennour was brought to Valencia as a replacement for Nicolas Otamendi, who ended up in the Premier League when Manchester City activated his release clause.
Chelsea are still paying the price for failing to bring in defensive cover after eventually giving up on trying to sign Stones. With John Terry, Gary Cahill and Kurt Zouma their only options at centre-half, the club finally sprang into action by signing Papy Djilobodji from FC Nantes and Michael Hector from Reading. Hector promptly returned to the Royals on loan for the remainder of the season while Djilobodji has played one minute of football since arriving at his new club.