Prior to Bruno Fernandes’s arrival, Manchester United ‘s signing of Robin van Persie was arguably the best bit of transfer business the club had completed in years.
And the story behind it is just as remarkable.
Back in 2012, Sir Alex Ferguson, like everyone else, had heard the striker’s Arsenal contract was nearing its end and was desperate to add more fire power to his ranks.
Robert Lewandowski was an option but with just months remaining on Van Persie’s deal United felt they could bring him in for a cheaper fee.
Then-chairman David Gill reached out to Ivan Gazidis over the situation but the Gunners felt they could persuade their prized striker to sign a new deal.
United refused to go so high and instead Ferguson pointed out that Van Persie had no desire to go to City over his side.
“These discussions, I should say, were amicable,” Ferguson penned in his 2013 best-seller My Autobiography . “There was no hint of hostility.
“We were two experienced managers confronting reality. The sticking point was that Arsene hoped to receive £30m or more for his best best plauer. It continued to drag on for several week, during which time I phone Arsene two or three times.”
Eventually both parties concluded that a move to United was on the cards but the fee was still to be sorted.
Ferguson continues: “Our offer, from David Gill, to [Ivan] Gazidis, was £20million. I warned Arsene that we would never get to £25million.
“Arsene was incredulous. He could not believe that Manchester United would refuse to stretch to £25million for such a player.
“I told him again: I wouldn’t go to £25m. Arsene asked what my best offer would be. Answer: £22million. The reply was that Arsenal would take £22.5m and a further £1.5m if we won the Champions League or Premier League during the period of his contract.
Ferguson always believed Wenger had been relieved to be selling Van Persie to United over City. But the former Gunners boss summed up the devastating blow he was receiving with honest words of wisdom to Ferguson.
“I always remember Arsene saying to me about Van Persie: ‘You don’t realise what a good player you’re getting.’
“I thought of Cantona and Ronaldo and Giggs. But Arsene was right. Robin’s movement and the timing of runs were mesmerising. He was also blessed with a formidable physique.”