Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas wanted to bring in Zinedine Zidane as the club's coach before the former France star took charge of Real Madrid.
Zidane was already being touted as a potential replacement for then under-fire Madrid boss Rafael Benitez when Lyon parted company with Hubert Fournier and installed his number two Bruno Genesio on Christmas Eve.
Aulas told Spanish newspaper AS that Zidane, who succeeded Benitez at the Santiago Bernabeu 11 days later, was his preferred choice, but claimed Lyon were priced out of a deal.
"I wanted to sign Zizou," he said. "It was on December 24. I talked to people very close to him but it was not an economically possible deal for us.
"Less than two weeks later, Benitez was sacked and [Zidane] was elected as the new coach of Madrid."
Lyon travel to Lille on Sunday having moved up to fifth in Ligue 1 on the back of victories in each of their past three league matches - scoring 10 times in the process.