Jose Mourinho says he never thought Manchester United would be able to sign Nemanja Matic before “something special happened” for a £40m move from Chelsea.
Midfielder Matic, 29, was named man of the match in United’s 4-0 home win against West Ham in their opening game of the new Premier League season.
“I didn’t disturb him, I didn’t disturb Chelsea,” said ex-Blues boss Mourinho.
“It looked like something was happening because his agent told me we can have him, that we just had to pay.”
The Serbia international became United’s third summer buy after £31m defender Victor Lindelof from Benfica – who did not make the matchday squad against West Ham – and £75m striker Romelu Lukaku from Everton.
It reunited Mourinho with a player who he spent £21m on to bring back to Chelsea for a second spell in January 2014.
Matic was a key figure in the Blues’ Premier League triumph under the Portuguese boss in 2014-15 and helped them win the title again last season.
He impressed on his debut league appearance for the Red Devils as goals from Lukaku (2), Anthony Martial and Paul Pogba earned an easy win against the Hammers.
Asked why Matic became available, Mourinho said: “It depends on what is happening or what was happening behind doors and we don’t know.
“The only thing I know is that I brought him to Stamford Bridge because I thought he was a player with special qualities and since I left I always thought he could be a perfect player for us.
“We have him and we are very happy because he is a player that our team needs.”