Piero Ausilio has admitted Inter were interested in signing Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Marco Verratti during the summer transfer window.
The 20-year-old has shined for les Parisiens since joining the club from Pescara back in July and has missed just one of their 12 league games this season.
His performances have drawn plaudits from far and wide and the sporting director admitted he could well have been a Nerazzurri player, but for the intervention of the Ligue 1 club.
"When we had the chance to chat to the boy last July, we had invested a lot of money in a player who will be the future of Inter, [Fredy] Guarin," he told the Inter Channel.
"I think with Verratti it was hoped, and not only by us, [that we could] gain a bit of time, but when clubs like PSG come in you can't really do much.
"PSG always swoop to snap up our targets after we've done the scouting work? That's something I must ask Leonardo about. I'm joking of course, he does his job very well."
Verratti's displays saw him make his Italy debut in a friendly against England back in August and Ausilio can see similarities between him and another esteemed member of the Azzurri squad.
"He's an excellent footballer and I think a key moment in his development came when [former Pescara coach] Zdenek Zeman moved him into a different position," he added.
"He used to play as an attacking midfielder, just like Pirlo, the difference being that Verratti dropped into a deeper role at a very young age.
"Carlo Ancelotti had the idea of playing him in front of the defence and now he's become one of the best. I hope he can follow in Pirlo's footsteps. He's got bags of quality, but life is about moments."