Ronald Koeman has revealed just how close he came to signing Olivier Giroud as Everton boss in the summer.
The sacked Toffees manager had earmarked the France international as the ideal replacement for the outgoing Romelu Lukaku, but was left mortified when Giroud opted to remain with Arsenal after a last-minute change of heart.
Koeman, who was relieved of his Blues duties on Monday after a terrible start to the season, spoke to Voetball International (h/t Sky Sports) and admitted that he actually had the striker in his office at USM Finch Farm before Giroud performed his U-turn.
Koeman explained: "I had Olivier Giroud in the building. He would have fitted perfectly but, at the very last moment, he decided that he'd rather live in London and stay at Arsenal.
"That was really hard to swallow. You tell me, where you can get a better striker?
"Lukaku was so important for us, not just because of his goals. If things were not going well in a game, if we could not play the way we were used to, there was always the option to use the long ball towards him.
"All of a sudden, we were missing such a player. With Nikola Vlasic and Wayne Rooney, we had attackers who want the ball at their feet."
Everton's failure to land a new goalscorer contributed massively to Koeman's departure after a run of just two Premier League wins in their first nine games this term.
The Dutchman, however, insisted that it was the club's incredibly tough start to 2017/18 that was the real reason behind the Toffees' paltry points haul - one which ultimately led to his sacking.
He added: "I was on holiday when I received the Premier League fixture list by e-mail.
"I looked at it and saw that five of our first nine games would be against clubs from last season's top six: Chelsea, Tottenham, Man City, Man United and Arsenal.
"I looked at it again and I said to myself, 'Phew! That is not going to be an easy run, in particular with a Europa League run at the same time'. And, most of all, because I had lost my striker Lukaku.''