Amidst interest from Liverpool, former Premier League defender Gabriel Heinze took his dispute with Manchester United to a Premier League arbitration panel.
Heinze’s representatives insisted that he had a letter from the Manchester United chief executive, David Gill, saying the left-back could move to any club that stumped up £6.8m.
Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez submitted a £6.8m offer in the summer of 2007 but the Reds refused to sell a first team player to their rivals.
Heinze ultimately lost the dispute which went to a Premier League tribunal and joined European giants Real Madrid, eventually retiring from professional football in 2014.
The last player who was directly sold between the north-west footballing giants was Phil Chisnall, joining Liverpool from Manchester United for £25,000 in 1964.
There is no love lost between the two most decorated clubs in English football history – and Sir Alex Ferguson’s passionate hatred for Liverpool was no secret.
The Argentine international, who was one considered a fans favourite at Old Trafford, was desperate to join United’s arch rivals but the legendary Scottish manager was having none of it.
“I can assure you, Liverpool will not be getting Gabriel Heinze,” said Ferguson in July 2007. “We can put that to bed right now and we have done so. We have had a couple offers for him and we have turned them down.”
Speaking later in the summer, Ferguson confidently commented on Heinze’s appeal process with the Premier League.
“That will take years,” Sir Alex Ferguson grinned.
Heinze regrets his actions
Speaking in 2011, Heinze admitted that he was wrong to try and force a move to Liverpool.
“I don’t have many regrets from my career as a footballer, but that episode with Ferguson [has] to be one of them,” he said. “I’m impulsive and strong-willed and this has got me into trouble at times, which was the case when I left United.
“I spent three years in Manchester and had some great moments and I regret it [leaving the club] a lot. There are a lot of things I regret from the last months but I am a strong personality, Sir Alex is a strong personality. I took the decision and, looking back, I regret it because it meant leaving a great club and their supporters.”
Heinze – who later played for Marseille, Roma and Newell’s Old Boys – met Ferguson in Qatar in November 2010.
“I was really pleased to see him,” said Heinze to the Guardian. “On reflection, it is easy to see Ferguson was a major influence on my career, in a positive way. I’m sorry that we fell out in the final days because I still have so much respect for him.”