Chairman Tony Hewitt has revealed that Saints missed out on bringing Samu Manoa back to the club during the summer after failing to agree a transfer fee with Toulon.
The 31-year-old was Saints’ supporters’ player of the year in 2013 and 2014 and was a hugely popular figure after joining from San Francisco Golden Gate in 2011.
He scored 16 tries in 84 appearances for Saints, helping the club to claim an Aviva Premiership and Amlin Challenge Cup double in the 2013/14 season.
But he left for Toulon in 2015, having agreed a four-year deal in France, which was thought to be worth around £600k per year.
At the time, Toulon president Mourad Boudjellal labelled the American forward a ‘rugby phenomenon’.
But after an injury-hit first season in France, Saints hoped to bring the fans’ favourite back to Franklin’s Gardens.
And Hewitt this week told this publication: “We had talks with Toulon to get him out of his contract, but they wanted a massive transfer fee for him, on top of a massive salary.
“It was really a non-starter.
“But we did have discussions with Samu Manoa.”