Sir Alex Ferguson was one of three managers who tried to lure Emmanuel Petit back to the Premier League, the midfielder has revealed.
Soon after though he returned and opted for a move to Chelsea after Claudio Ranieri convinced him to join.
Ferguson made a play for him to join Manchester United while Arsene Wenger was also on the phone admitting he was wrong to let him go.
But Ranieri’s personal touch was enough for Petit to rebuff the advances of both Wenger and Ferguson.
Speaking exclusively to Ladbrokes at its launch of the 5-A-Side Bet on Crystal Palace v Chelsea, he said: “During that bad period at Barcelona, Sir Alex Ferguson called me twice and wanted me to join Manchester United.
“Arsene Wenger also called me because he wanted me back at Arsenal.
“But Claudio Ranieri had just taken over at Chelsea and after a call with me, he came to visit me in Barcelona.
“Three managers had called me from three big clubs in England, but only one took a plane to come and see me.
“I really liked talking to Alex Ferguson, and I love the way Arsene tried to convince me to come back to Arsenal because he told me he’d made a mistake.
“But I appreciate the fight Ranieri put up to sign for Chelsea. He’s such a great guy and I was won over by his personality.
“He accepted my invitation to come and have lunch at my home in Barcelona. He wasn’t interested in anything other than coming to see me in my home, meeting my family and seeing how I was getting on.
“I don’t think we spoke about football for the first hour, and that meant a lot to me, because there are so many things that are more important, and it told me about the type of person Ranieri was.
“We talked about everything but football in that first hour, in fact. I loved it. I love football, but for me life is more important than football. If you want to be a better player, you also need to be a better human being.
“I signed for Chelsea and my ex-wife was happy with my decision because she wanted to go back to London. Can you believe that?
“After telling me she wanted to move away from London, she decided after six months in Barcelona she wanted to return.”