Tianjin Quanjian owner Shu Yuhui confirmed the cashed-up Chinese Super League outfit had plans to sign Diego Costa, Karim Benzema, Edinson Cavani and Radamel Falcao until China's Football Association (CFA) made changes to the limit of foreigners.
Having already lured Belgium international Axel Witsel to the CSL, Tianjin - coached by former Real Madrid and Juventus defender Fabio Cannavaro - had been linked with further moves for Chelsea's Costa & Co.
And Shu revealed Tianjin had been in talks with the Spain international, Real Madrid striker Benzema, Paris Saint-Germain's Cavani and Monaco hitman Falcao before the CFA announced new rules regarding foreign players, with teams in the CSL forced to name only three of their imports in starting XIs from this season.
"Our club had a massive investment plan for the new season but it was tightened up by the new rules," Shu told Tianjin Sports Channel.
"We need an out-and-out striker so we made a bid for Benzema. We also made an attempt for Falcao.
"As a matter of fact, the club had even prepared the contracts for Falcao and [Benfica striker] Raul Jimenez. We had already reached agreement with them on wages and bonus. The pair were expected to sign the contracts, but the new rules forced us to give up on them."
Delving deeper into Tianjin's transfer plans, Shu revealed meetings with Jorge Mendes, whose clients include Cristiano Ronaldo among others.
"I made an appointment with Mendes and he came to my hometown to visit me. At that time, we were interested in signing Costa," he added.
"PSG told us Cavani would only be allowed to leave in June, even though the player himself was willing to join us. The same can be said for Costa because Chelsea would only let him leave in June. However, the new season of CSL will almost reach the halfway stage in June, we can't wait so long."
While the arrivals of these players appear unlikely, Fiorentina star Nikola Kalinic is nearing a move to Haihe Educational Football Stadium in Tianjin.
"We are currently discussing whether to hold onto [former Brazil international] Luis Fabiano," Shu said. "But Cannavaro told us he preferred Kalinic, who would perfectly fit into the team's style of play."
Tianjin are set to play in China's top flight in 2017 after Cannavaro guided the club to promotion last season.