Just as the saga was about to end, the war has begun. Manchester United and Real Madrid have both pinned the blame for David de Gea's failed move to Spain on each other, and ignited a war that could occur throughout European football for a decade.
Though they come from different countries and participate in different leagues, the two sides are fierce rivals. Enemies, in fact. Bitter disputes regarding players in the past, coupled with their lust to be Europe's leading superpower, will ensure they never become firm friends.
Both want what the other has - either to be widely recognised as the biggest club in the business or to be the most commercially appealing. Anything that happens on the pitch is merely a sideshow with their quest for financial muscle the main event.
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It was just over six years ago that Sir Alex Ferguson sat alongside Cristiano Ronaldo and insisted that any rumours of an agreement between themselves for the player to move to Madrid were far off the mark.
"We wouldn't sell them a virus," he said in no uncertain terms. Face filled with rage at the idea, it was symbolic of just how prickly the Scot could act when Madrid's name was brought into the equation. Later in the same conference he referred to them as "that mob."
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United did everything to keep Ronaldo before eventually, and unwillingly, allowing him to leave for the Santiago Bernabeu. The way Madrid presented him in front of a full stadium alongside their many league and Champions League titles carried a clear and stark message: he was their newest trophy now.
The sales of Ruud van Nistelrooy, David Beckham and Gabriel Heinze previously came under different circumstances. Van Nistelrooy and Beckham had been frozen out by Ferguson and - instead of allowing a saga to rumble on like this summer - United moved them out as soon as possible. For Heinze, it was either to Liverpool or to Madrid. They chose Madrid.
United and Madrid will go to the war in the future with the two clubs keen on depleting the other in order to stand alone as the biggest superpower in the footballing world.
Ed Woodward has tried - and failed - to raid the Spaniards since succeeding David Gill two years ago, with Gareth Bale a much coveted target despite the Welshman's desire to stay and fight for his place in the Spanish capital.
Madrid meanwhile were expected to wrap up the signing of De Gea early on and without any glitches, only for United to stand firm right to the very end. Though they insist they upheld their end of the deal, the Spaniard giants are insisting the opposite.
This dispute threatens to rumble on. Next time the clubs enter negotiations they may be a lot more tense than they were before.
Who is the bigger club - Real Madrid or Manchester United?
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