Liverpool striker Rickie Lambert has confirmed he came close to joining Aston Villa on transfer deadline day.
The 33-year-old England star arrived at Anfield from Southampton last summer in a £4m move but looked set to join Villa at the start of February and even agreed terms on a two-and-a-half-year deal before pulling out at the last minute.
Lambert told the Liverpool Echo: "I got a phone call from the gaffer about 4pm (on deadline day) saying Aston Villa had come in.
"He said he didn't want me to go, but basically offered me the chance if I wanted to play football, which is fair enough.
"I spoke to my agent, my wife, to Aston Villa and it was close. It was very close. It was touch and go. We agreed everything.
I spoke to my agent, my wife, to Aston Villa and it was close. It was very close. It was touch and go. We agreed everything.
"But in the end there just wasn't enough time to say 'yes' - to make a decision in the space of four or five hours for the next two-and-a-half-years. Not just for me, but for my family as well.
"It was something I just couldn't do. It was too short notice. It was too big a decision to make in the short amount of time I had.
"It was nothing negative towards Aston Villa, it's a great club," added Lambert. "I just didn't think it was right for me to leave here just six months into my Liverpool career. I didn't want to go.
"It was something I would have probably looked back at a few years down the line and regretted if I had moved too early.
"It's hard sometimes when you aren't playing, but I'm at the club I love. I'm not willing to give that up easily."