Former Aston Villa boss Paul Lambert would be willing to tell anyone who’ll listen that the club failed to back his pursuit of then-St Etienne hotshot Pierre Emerick Aubameyang in the summer of 2013, The Express reports.
The Gabon speedster had netted a career best 19 Ligue 1 goals in the previous season and Lambert insists that he did at least make contact with Aubameyang’s agent.
“I knew I wasn’t going to get money to spend,” the Scot told The Express. “I actually spoke to an agent from France about Aubameyang. He was at St Etienne and we made contact.
“It was players like that that I wanted to try and bring in but we were never going to get them.”
The rest, as they say, is history. Aubameyang moved to Borussia Dortmund instead that summer and, while Aston Villa are mired in the second tier, ‘the one that got away’ has hit 33 goals in 39 games in all competitions.
However, if Lambert was frustrated by his club’s failure to secure the 27-year-old’s services, spare a thought for former West Brom scout Stuart White.
“His agent called me. He was interested in coming to England,” White, who watched Aubameyang in action back in 2011, told Planet Football. “It was clear that he was going to be affordable so I recommended that we pursued it.
“A few more of our scouts went out to watch him a week or two later and he scored an early goal against Sochaux in a 2-1 defeat but didn’t impress sufficiently on the night, which can happen.
“He then went back to Saint-Etienne, scored 21 in 45 and was subsequently sold to Dortmund for 13million euros. He would have been a free loan to us with a 2million euros fee tied into the deal had we taken him.”
Every scout has a hard-luck story, usually revolving around a club failing to act on their recommendations.
Yet, with West Brom still persisting with a striker who has not scored a league goal in four months, it’s fair to say manager Tony Pulis may wish he could call upon the services of one of the world’s most feared centre-forwards.