Eden Hazard has revealed had Tottenham Hotspur qualified for the Champions League this season he would have signed for the club rather than Chelsea.
Despite a stuttering second half of the 2011-12 season, Spurs still finished fourth in the Premier League table, which would have assured them of a pre-qualifying berth in Europe's premier club competition.
However Chelsea's defeat of Bayern Munich in the Champions League final ensured they qualified as tournament holders and were allocated the fourth English team spot.
"It's true that Tottenham tempted me because it was a young team which was third in the league," Hazard told France Football. "Unfortunately, the end of the season did not go well. They did not reach the Champions League, which tipped the balance."
Chelsea's poor domestic form last season saw them finish sixth, but their failings were masked by their European success and FA Cup triumph. And their double success was instrumental in luring Hazard to west London.
"Nobody was really a fan of Chelsea's game last season," he said. "The directors told me they were going to recruit good players with whom I could play decent football. Marko Marin, Oscar and me, we like to have the ball at our feet. Juan Mata likes the ball, so does Ramires.
"The title of European champions, and Champions League qualification, counted for a lot because the club was not doing well in the league. Once Chelsea won the final, it was a natural choice."
Spurs instead bought Gylfi Sigurdsson, Mousa Dembélé and Clint Dempsey to strengthen the team's spine while Hazard is one of several diminutive attackers Chelsea have bought in the past 18 months.
Other transfers that never were
Diego Maradona (Argentinos Juniors to Sheffield United, 1978)
A precocious 17-year-old interested the Blades, however they were reluctant to part with a reported £200,000 for him. Manager Harry Haslam instead instead bought Maradona's fellow Argentine Alejandro Sabella for £160,000. Sabella played 76 times, but he is not arguably the greatest footballer that ever lived.
Zinedine Zidane (Bordeaux to Manchester United, 1996)
Fresh from his fledglings' double success, Alex Ferguson sought to bring in some continental flair in his quest to finally conquer Europe with United. Zidane, quietly impressive at Euro 96 was a candidate until Karel Poborsky scored that lob for the Czech Republic against Portugal in the quarter-final.
His ostentatious effort persuaded Ferguson to sign him instead of Zidane. Poborsky lasted less than two seasons, Zidane meanwhile is regarded as the best player of his generation.
Alan Shearer (Blackburn Rovers to Manchester United, 1996)
Ferguson has experienced some major near-misses (Paul Gascoigne, Patrick Kluivert, Ronaldinho) but he could have boasted Cantona, Shearer, Zidane, Giggs, Keane and Scholes in 1996, only he missed out on two greats in their respective positions. The Scot had tried to sign Shearer from Southampton in 1992 and four years on made another move in a bid to bring Shearer to Old Trafford after he top-scored at the Euros. Alas Rovers owner Jack Walker refused to sell him to a "rival" (Blackburn had just finished six places behind the Red Devils) and instead Shearer returned home to Newcastle for £15m, where he won nothing during a 10-year career. Ferguson instead bought Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who cost £13.5m less, won six league titles, two FA Cups and scored the winner in the 1999 Champions League final.
Steven Gerrard (Liverpool to Chelsea, 2005)
"He kisses the badge on his chest, then puts in a transfer request" is the chant aired by Manchester United to mock the one-club Scouser. Gerrard had gained immortality after his 2005 Champions League final display, and rhetorically asked: "How can I leave after that?" pitchside in Istanbul.
"Do you think we can play in the same team together?"
The midfielder didn't so much flirt with the prospect as commit to it. Reds fans burned effigies of him and called him a "traitor" for wanting to move south to the recently-crowned league champions. He did a U-turn the next day, effectively committing himself to Liverpool for the remainder of his career.