Sir Alex Ferguson personally contacted Barcelona in an attempt to stop Cristiano Ronaldo leaving Manchester United for Real Madrid, according to a new biography of the Portugal star.
The former United manager was unimpressed by Madrid's courting of his prized asset, and 'Cristiano Ronaldo: The Biography' claims the Premier League giants wrote a letter to president Ramon Calderon asking him to stop all public overtures.
With Madrid growing ever confident of signing Ronaldo in the summer of 2008, Ferguson looked to pull Barcelona into the world-record chase but the player had already made up his mind.
"[Sir Alex] flew to Portugal to cut off Madrid's bid directly," Guillem Balague writes in AS. "He was clear that he wouldn't allow his arm to be twisted. This was about much more than a transfer, it was about maintaining his authority in the eyes of the world.
"For weeks he'd pursued a Machiavellian approach of sorts, but seeing that he couldn't persuade Cristiano to stay he made contact with Barcelona to encourage them to bid. Anyone but Real Madrid. But Cristiano had made up his mind about where he wanted to go."
Ferguson then changed tack and looked to reach a "gentleman's agreement" with Ronaldo's long-time agent and friend Jorge Mendes and Madrid to delay a transfer just weeks after winning the Champions League for the second time.
Balague continues: "Ferguson sought a gentlemen's agreement that he'd already run by Mendes. He wouldn't let him leave this year, he said, but if he behaved well over the next twelve months, if he gave enough to the club and Madrid came back with a record fee, he wouldn't stand in his way."
Ronaldo eventually joined Real Madrid for a then-world record fee of £80 million in 2009.