Former Lille manager Jocelyn Gourvennec has admitted that defender Sven Botman had wanted to join Newcastle in January before eventually agreeing his move to St James' Park this summer.
Botman was among the first targets of the new Newcastle regime following their takeover late last year and the Magpies pushed hard to land him in January, only to find Lille adamant that they would not do business midway through the season.
90min understands that Newcastle ended the winter window believing that Botman was genuinely keen on a move to St James' Park and convinced that they should return with a bid this summer once they had avoided relegation.
After fighting off competition from AC Milan, Newcastle are inching ever closer to getting their man, with Botman already in England to undergo his medical ahead of signing his contract.
However, according to Gourvennec who left Lille this summer, Botman wanted to be in this position six months ago.
"Sven was speaking with the president [Olivier Letang] and wanted to speak to me, too," Gourvennec told the Newcastle Chronicle. "I said to him, 'If you have Newcastle now in January, you will have Newcastle in the summer. I think it's better to stay here, to finish your job'.
"We had to prepare for the Champions League against Chelsea. He was a little bit disturbed because he didn't know if he had to accept that in January, but he understood he could finish the job in Lille.
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"It's never easy to arrive at a club in January. To adapt is never ideal. He made a good choice to wait. Now I think it will be OK for him. He deserves it.
"It's a good choice for him because he will discover the Premier League. He has all the qualities to perform in the Premier League - I have no doubt about that.
"He's not a star at the moment but people and other players will discover him. You can't be wrong if you made a choice to recruit Sven Botman."