Stephan El Shaarawy confirmed he was close to returning to Roma in January in a bid to earn a place in Italy's squad for Euro 2020.
El Shaarawy, who left Roma for Shanghai Shenhua last year, was heavily linked with a return, but no move was completed.
A 25-time Italy international, the attacker said he was prepared to return amid interest from two Serie A clubs, including Roma.
"There was the possibility of returning to Italy," El Shaarawy told Fabio Cannavaro during an Instagram Live chat on Sunday, via Corriere dello Sport.
"When the virus broke out, I had spoken to the club saying that I needed to play to earn a place in the European Championship.
"Having already had a great consideration from [Italy coach Roberto] Mancini despite my move to China, I was ready to return to play regularly, but then nothing was done.
"There had been contacts with two teams. One was Roma."
The coronavirus pandemic saw the European Championship pushed back to 2021.
El Shaarawy featured in two qualifiers for the tournament, scoring once.