SOUTHAMPTON were on the brink of pipping Liverpool to the signing of Philippe Coutinho in 2012.
The Saints were locked in a transfer battle with their Premier League rivals after learning that Inter Milan were ready to cash in.
Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino had recently been appointed as Southampton’s new manager and had signed Coutinho on loan at Espanyol the season before.
And he wanted to bring him to the Premier League having lodged a £10.3million bid for the Brazilian.
Liverpool had initially offered £8m to sign him but the Italian giants had rejected it after the Saints offered more cash.
With Coutinho braced for talks with Southampton, Liverpool launched a last minute offer and Coutinho eventually opted to join the Anfield side.
The revelation came following an interview with former Saints chief Nicola Cortese speaking to Jim White on talkSPORT.
Cortese also revealed how a number of scouting missions to watch Coutinho ended up in the club landing Pochettino.
He said: “I occasionally accompanied our head of recruitment Paul Mitchell at games.
“On this occasion we, with Nigel, went to scout Coutinho when he was on loan at Espanyol, and I was attracted by this young man on the touchline. I just liked his body language, I felt he had a good impact.
“This is something I normally do – when I watch a football game I can see if a player pays a good game, but I leave the technical side to the manager and recruitment officers while I was looking more at what was going on around the stadium.
“The manager – I didn’t know what his name was at the time, but from that moment I started following his career.
“I started doing due diligence on him, calling agents who had players there and asking about their training regime.
“I was collecting information, just in case, but I was still far away from appointing him at the time.”