Manchester United won their 20th Premier League title in 2012/13, which was Sir Alex Ferguson’s last as manager.
Robin van Persie was the protagonist of that triumph, with his signing from Arsenal pushing United to new prolific heights.
However, former United coach Rene Meulensteen has now revealed that the transformative signing almost didn’t happen due to Sir Alex himself!
During an interview with Talksport, Meulensteen revealed that Van Persie’s agent rang him to speak about his client’s potential availability in January saying “he’s not happy” and “things are stalling with Arsenal”.
📞 “I got a call from Robin’s agent. He wanted to join #MUFC & play for Ferguson.”
😱 “I walked into Fergie’s office & said ‘Van Persie is interested’. He said ‘Nah, too old!’”
Rene Meulensteen reveals how he had to persuade Sir Alex to sign Van Persie! 👀 pic.twitter.com/TBXJaCq3JJ
— talkSPORT (@talkSPORT) August 3, 2023
Van Persie’s agent sold his client’s eagerness, saying “he only wants to play for Manchester United and Sir Alex Ferguson”.
The coach took the matter to Sir Alex, who dismissed the interest out of hand saying that the Dutch striker is “too old”.
Van Persie had had a good season with Arsenal earlier but was regarded as injury-prone.
Meulensteen revealed that after Sir Alex’s refusal, he took the matter to some senior players at the club. He sounded out the Arsenal striker’s suitability at the club and gauged the reaction of the players to his potential arrival.
After glowing reviews, they set about making the “difficult” transfer a reality as Sir Alex got on board soon after.
The Dutchman ended up being a huge success. He scored 26 goals in the league to bag the Golden Boot award and won his first and only Premier League title with United.
Sir Alex gushed about his qualities and to this day he remains one of the most transformative signings in United history.
To think that Sir Alex almost stopped a deal that made him a Premier League champion again before leaving is a remarkable thought, but he always stressed the importance of surrounding himself with good staff.
Rene Meulensteen came through at the time and Sir Alex walked off into retirement life with another PL title around his neck.