After winning the league with United in 2007, Gabriel Heinze claimed he was very happy at the club.

“I’m very comfortable in Manchester,” he said. “I’ve been a champion, captain and the fans love me. Everything is perfect.”

Yet a month or so later, Heinze was publicly declaring that he wanted out, committing a mortal sin, in insisting that Liverpool FC was his desired destination. There was no way Sir Alex Ferguson would have that, turning down any bid from the dippers, before finally accepting a bid and making a profit from Real Madrid.

Fergie has his own theories behind this sale and these were revealed in the press.

“When we sold Heinze to Real Madrid, we knew what was going to happen, because Ronaldo was very close to him,” he said. “I knew what they were doing. I don’t believe they were interested in Heinze — good player though he is. The end-game was to get Ronaldo.”

Less than 24 hours later, Heinze has got wind of these claims and has responded angrily.

“This theory of Ferguson about me going to Real in order to persuade Cristiano to come the following summer is a work of absolute fiction,” said Heinze. “I am a very good friend of Cristiano Ronaldo. This is true, but he always decides his own future. Cristiano is a clever person and he decides himself what is best for his own life. If he asks me a question about Real then, of course, I will answer, but I’m not a bad influence on him.”

Heinze then turned on his former boss, claiming he couldn’t be silenced any more as he was no longer a United player.

“Ferguson has spoken about me in the last months and I don’t understand this,” he added. “I thought he had forgotten me. He’s the boss at United and any person who protests about anything is marginalised. This was my problem at times when I was there. Ferguson cannot stop my quotes because I’m not now at United. I’m actually convinced Cristiano would offer Madrid even bigger performances than he has at United. That is my opinion and it is normal that I have wanted him to come and play with us here in La Liga.”