Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has admitted he wanted to sign Yann M'Vila, when the Sunderland the midfielder was at former club Rennes.
M'Vila has been the stand-out performer among Sunderland's summer signings after arriving on a season-long loan from Ruben Kazan.
Sunderland have the option to convert the loan deal into a permanent switch next summer, although the Frenchman's displays for the Black Cats are likely to attract other suitors.
Liverpool and Arsenal were among M'Vila's admirers when he was coming through the ranks at French club Rennes, with Wenger confirming the latter's interest prior to Sunderland's clash at the Emirates today.
"We were interested in him when he was in France and the year we wanted to bring him in, Rennes did not want to sell him," said Wenger in the Arsenal matchday programme.
"He had a few off-the-field problems, but it looks like now he's stabilised and he's of course a very good player who is a regular player in the national team in France."