The January transfer window saw Lille defender Sven Botman become one of the biggest stories of the winter.
Wanted by at least one Premier League club, the start of the year saw the commanding 22-year-old come agonisingly close to joining Newcastle United.
Following their bumper £300m takeover last year, club executive Amanda Staveley admitted that the Magpies did all they could to bring the Dutch centre-back to St James’ Park.
“We had to encourage players – ‘we’ll be a safe place for you, we’ll deliver and grow’,” Staveley told The Athletic earlier this year.
“Some desperately wanted to come to us, like Sven (Botman), who still does very much and has talked very openly about that.
“Coming through all that showed us we can do it, that we can stick to our plan and if we get criticised on the last day for ‘oh, you’re going after Jesse (Lingard)’, well, Jesse wanted to come to us.
“We did everything. We never stopped. From the start to the finish, we did not stop working.”
Despite the Geordies’ tireless efforts, a move ultimately failed to materialise – leaving Botman with no choice but to see out the second half of the season with Lille.
Newcastle United wasn’t the only side keen on the 6’4″ tall centre-back. David Moyes’ West Ham, who is on the lookout for a younger centre-back, was also understood to be close to completing a deal.
Newcastle United and West Ham to come back in for Botman?
However, despite the disappointment, speaking in a recent interview with French outlet L’Equipe, the 22-year-old, who has three years left on his deal, has predicted more offers to come in for him during the upcoming summer window.
“I accepted the situation (that Lille would not let him join Newcastle or West Ham in January),” the defender said.
“There were opportunities (to leave). But we also had the Champions League to play in, my first one. And we were in a good position in Ligue 1.
“I think these offers will come back (in the summer).
“I’ll see (what happens in the summer). If things go as planned, then yes (I will leave Lille). But first of all, I want to finish this season well. The club deserves it. After that, we’ll see. I haven’t decided anything.”
Since joining Lille from Ajax’s youth academy in 2020, Botman has gone on to feature in 76 games, in all competitions, directly contributing to five goals along the way.