INTER MILAN star Lautauro Martinez could easily have ended up in the Potteries had Stoke pulled off an audacious deal in 2016… before ending up with flop Wilfried Bony.
Former boss Mark Hughes was looking to add more star-studded names to his squad after a third consecutive ninth-place finish.
Stoke fans were already being treated to a XI that consisted of Marko Arnautovic, Xherdan Shaqiri, Ibrahim Afellay and Bojan.
Paris Saint-Germain duo Jese Rodriguez and Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting would arrive in the following campaign.
Hughes wanted to take Stoke to the next level and one of the names at the top of the summer wishlist was Martinez.
The Argentine striker, 18 at the time, was impressing for boyhood side Racing Club when chief scout Kevin Cruickshank flew to South America in an attempt to secure a deal.
According to The Atheltic, Cruickshank ended up in Buenos Aires on four separate occasions to meet with Martinez’s agents.
He even held talks with the player’s parents – albeit in broken Spanish.
But Cruickshank eventually gave up hope of landing Martinez when he learned of Atletico Madrid’s interest.
Stoke had to look elsewhere and after a string of failed targets, they secured the loan deal of Wilfried Bony on transfer deadline day.
The former Man City man flopped massively at the Bet365, scoring just two goals in 11 games before being banished from the first team during the second half of the season.
It was a case of what could have been for Stoke had they signed Martinez instead.
The 22-year-old would end up joining Inter Milan in 2018 and has scored 30 goals in 83 games for San Siro.
Now he has been linked with a huge money move to Barcelona with the Catalan giants debating whether to match his £100million release clause.
Meanwhile Bony would score just four more times in 25 appearances in England for Swansea before ending his career in Qatar with Al Arabi.