Liverpool striker Rickie Lambert has admitted he came close to joining Aston Villa in a £5million deal on transfer deadline day.
The striker – who turned 33 this week – has found first team opportunities at Anfield limited since completing a £4million transfer from Southampton in the summer.
The Reds left the option of a switch to Villa Park in the hands of the England international, and Lambert has admitted he came close to leaving his boyhood club, but the desire to prove himself at Anfield made him stay.
“I wasn’t aware of any interest until deadline day,” he said.
“I got a phone call from the gaffer about 4pm 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, I spoke to my wife, I spoke to Aston Villa and it was close. It was very close. It was touch and go. We agreed everything.
“The deal was agreed, 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 of a decision to make in the short amount of time I had.
“Brendan was made up.
“We had been speaking throughout the day and I was asking him for his help. I spoke to everyone who is close to me. In the end it came down to the amount of time I had to think about it and the thought of leaving Liverpool after six months.
“The gaffer was offering me the chance to go and play football and I respected that. He had said ‘it’s up to you’. He wanted me here but couldn’t guarantee me starting time.”