Tottenham could have signed Benjamin Mendy in the summer.
The young left-back tore into Spurs as Monaco dumped them out of the Champions League on Tuesday, providing a superb cross for Djibril Sidibe to score the opener.
And as Monaco were celebrating their passage to the knockout stage, Mauricio Pochettino will have undoubtedly contemplated what might have been.
Monaco and Mendy were stark reminders of both Tottenham’s disappointing European campaign and the difficult transfer window that came before.
Pochettino could not hide his frustration on both counts.
“Next season, if we are in the Champions League, maybe we need to make some changes. Maybe we need to add more quality in the squad,” the Spurs boss said.
That was the aim in the summer – to improve the depth of quality – but that already challenging task was made more difficult by chairman Daniel Levy’s reluctance to spend.
The plan was to recoup funds from player sales and reinvest, which they did. But on the evidence from new signings so far, Pochettino has not obtained the immediate quality he wanted.
Mendy – a France Under-21 international then playing for Marseille – is just one example.
The 22-year-old was available for around £13m, with Spurs already in good contact with Marseille over Michy Batshuayi and Georges-Kevin N’Koudou.
All three players share the same representatives and were keen on Spurs, but Levy could not attract a buyer for Ben Davies at a price he wanted, so Mendy went to Monaco instead.
The Ligue 1 club are a different environment of course but the player looked more than at home at the top level on Tuesday, while Spurs looked out of their depth.
Batshuayi is another example – yet to establish himself Chelsea’s first-team, he has nonetheless shown glimpses of his quality when he has played.
Levy refused to sanction £32m for the striker, whom he foresaw sitting on the bench, behind Harry Kane, burning a hole in his pocket. Vincent Janssen – signed for £19m instead – is a good player but will take time to realise his potential.
N’Koudou, too, could be a quality player but is not yet ready to command at the top table. Pochettino wanted quality now – not a year or two down the line.
Then there is Moussa Sissoko; a player of apparent pedigree and the only one Levy was persuaded to provide the funds for without recouping from sales.
It is almost impossible to see in him the direct and dangerous right-winger that Pochettino wanted and on Tuesday he came off the bench in a more natural-looking central role.
Supporters have rightly questioned a signing that appeared a step out of line from the club’s philosophy on age, price, wages and pedigree. But he was the only credible option with the club backed into a corner ahead of the transfer deadline.
It is too early to write any of these players off for good, of course.
But the Champions League has come too early for them at Spurs and that seems to have sent shockwave of collective doubt through the squad
Spurs’ challenges have increased with success. The new stadium is expensive and Levy will rightly not take the club into debt because of it.
But, with recruitment chief Paul Mitchell heading for the exit, the club’s biggest challenge will be to find that quality Pochettino wants