Arjen Robben has revealed how he held talks with Manchester United before signing for Chelsea in 2004.
Robben eventually signed for Jose Mourinho at Stamford Bridge in a £12million transfer from PSV Eindhoven, but not before he met with United boss Sir Alex Ferguson and went to look around their training facilities.
The now Bayern Munich winger was being chased by clubs all over Europe and United looked to be in pole position to sign the Dutch star, who was 20 at the time, but an offer never materialised and Robben signed for Mourinho instead.
“I had a very good conversation with [Ferguson] over dinner in Manchester and we spoke about football and life,” Robben told FourFourTwo. “I also went and had a good look around the training ground and everything was good.
“But after I went back to PSV, nothing happened. There was no real contact and the deal didn’t happen. PSV were also negotiating with Chelsea at that time, so maybe they offered PSV more money? I don’t really know.
“I spoke to Chelsea and I liked their plans. We had one meeting and everything was done pretty quickly. Had Manchester United offered me a deal straight after I met them, I would have signed there, but it didn’t happen and I’ve got no regrets.”
Robben reveals how Mourinho was very “intense”, but he says the Portuguese boss helped his confidence and after winning two Premier League titles and five trophies in the capital, and labelled him a “good man-manager”.
“[Mourinho] was really demanding and intense, but at that age, I think it was good for me and my football development,” added Robben. “I am a student and someone who wants to improve and work hard, so I think our personalities were a good fit. Mourinho was a good man-manager and he gave me a lot of confidence.
“For a manager, it’s difficult if a player is injured because you can’t count on him, so I could understand it a little bit. But it’s worse for a player — you want to be enjoying your football. Jose is a winner and wants strong players. I felt so much confidence from him when I was fit, but injuries created a bit of a struggle.”
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