Roma's former director of football admitted he thought it was a "hoax" when they signed Chris Smalling from Manchester United in a damning appraisal of the club's transfer strategy.
Smalling was deemed surplus to requirements at Old Trafford last summer and joined the Serie A side on loan for a fee of under £3m.
He became a hugely important part of the team, making 30 league appearances last season and helping Roma to a fifth place finish.
After returning to Manchester he ended up joining permanently for an initial £13m.
And speaking in an interview with Italian outlet Corriere dello Sport, then-director Gianluca Petrachi said he could not believe how cheaply Roma were able to sign Smalling for initially.
"We were trying to sign Dejan Lovren (from Liverpool ), but I did not want to spend so much on a player with a groin problem," Petrachi said.
"An Italian agent then called me and said: 'you can have Smalling on loan.' I couldn't believe it. I thought it was a hoax.
"Smalling is one of those players great at marking that are going extinct."
Considering Smalling's winning pedigree and experience at the highest level, it is indeed a surprise that United let him go so easily and for so cheap.
The club have been criticised recently for their activity in the transfer market, and have been left with a number of players they are seemingly unable to get rid of, like Phil Jones, Sergio Romero and Marcos Rojo.
Despite their vast quantity of centre-backs manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer only seems to truly trust Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof, and it remains to be seen if United go in for another defender in January.
Meanwhile Smalling is continuing to flourish in Italy, and looks set to form a key part of the team for a number of years to come.
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