Sevilla’s revered director Monchi has dismissed reports that he rejected the opportunity to sign Robin van Persie from Manchester United this summer - and even went as far as to compare the Dutch striker, who joined Fenerbahce this month, to Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi.
Monchi, who is widely regarded as one of the best club directors in world football, tried to sign Van Persie before the left-footed forward joined Arsenal in 2004.
However, the Sevilla chief claims there was never any chance of the Netherlands international ending up at the Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán Stadium this summer.
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"Turning down Van Persie is like rejecting Messi. He is a top player and I would not even dare to say no to a player like him," Monchi told Spanish newspaper Marca, according to Goal.com. "I would do everything to get him in and never snubbed Van Persie.
"If a player like him would be available and open to a move to Sevilla, the club would always look into it.
"I am not a spiteful man who would reject someone because he did not come to this club in the past."
Messi is in a different league to RvP
Even though Monchi has completed some of the best transfer dealings of any club director over the past decade, his decision to compare Van Persie to four-time Ballon d’Or winner Messi is bizarre.
Van Persie has been in steep decline since the end of the 2012-13 campaign and was subsequently deemed surplus to requirements by Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal last season.
Even at his peak - between 2009 and 2013 - Van Persie never scaled the same heights as Messi, who is arguably the greatest footballer of all time.
Monchi may have been making the point that Van Persie is one of Europe’s high-profile strikers and securing his services would have been a no-brainer for a club like Sevilla - particularly after losing top scorer Carlos Bacca this summer - but the Messi comparison is still a little clumsy.
Van Persie's best days are behind him
Van Persie decided to join Fenerbahce after receiving a lucrative offer from the Turkish giants, rather than seeing out the final year of his contract with the Red Devils.
Sevilla, meanwhile, have replaced Bacca with Italian forward Ciro Immobile, who completed his loan move from Borussia Dortmund this week.
Unai Emery’s side have also completed the signing of gifted Ukrainian winger Yevhen Konoplyanka.
Manchester United’s decision to offload Van Persie has split the club’s fans, although there’s an acceptance that the Dutchman’s best days are now behind him.
Manchester United fans: are you glad Robin van Persie has been sold or should Louis van Gaal have kept him for another season? Have your say by leaving a comment in the box below!