Manchester United were played by Sergio Ramos and it's not the first time
With Sergio Ramos agreeing to a new contract with Real Madrid and the talk of him signing for Manchester United finally banished, the post mortem on the non-signing of the summer can begin.
United's hopes of luring Ramos away from Madrid always seemed improbable, even thought Old Trafford chiefs did their best to try and tie his future in a deal that would see David De Gea seal his protracted move to the Bernabeu.
Yet when respected journalists began to circulate reports suggesting Ramos had told Real Madrid that he wanted to move to Old Trafford and that he was "adamant" about making the switch this summer, some United fans dared to believe the World Cup winning defender would be wearing a red shirt this season.
It now appears that those stories were being promoted by the Ramos camp to ensure a bumper new contract was presented to their client and at the age of 29, he has signed up to the most lucrative deal of his decorated career.
Was Ramos ever serious about joining United? Probably not and if he did use linked with a move to Manchester as a ploy to secure a new contract with his current employer or a move elsewhere, it would not be the first time such a scenario has been played out.
Those mysterious 'United insiders' claimed Toni Kroos was close to signing for the club last summer until a subsequent claim that the club has 'decided' not to sign the German World Cup winner, who opted to join Real Madrid.
The saga of Chile midfielder Arturo Vidal's non-move to United last summer was another example of the media being whipped into a frenzy by 'United insiders', while persistent suggestions that Borussia Dortmund Mats Hummels was ready to join United in last January's transfer window were also misleading.
When United did make their move to sign Hummels this summer, he opted to stay at Dortmund and the same was true of his team-mate Ilkay Gundogan, who was said to be 'on the brink' of moving to Manchester before he signed a new deal with his current club.
It is a catalogue of transfer near misses that fuels the suspicion that some 'United insiders' are ill-informed, with the perception that a host of the game's biggest names use links with Old Trafford before they secure a bumper pay rise.
The lucrative contracts United can offer would spark concern among any club rumoured to be threatened by the Old Trafford vultures and yet it is becoming increasingly evident that Ed Woodward, the club's executive vice-chairman and transfer guru, is among those being played by some of the game's biggest names.
The latest stories suggesting Bayern Munich striker Thomas Muller 'wants to join Man Utd' have a familiar ring to them and like so many that have gone before them, it is hard to imagine the transfer of a player who could transform United's season becoming reality any time soon.
Very few players turned down Manchester United in the era when David Gill was pulling transfer strings and Alex Ferguson stood proud as their all-conquering manager, but a new phenomenon has been born since their duel departures in the summer of 2013 and it paints the club in a very different light.
Manchester United are in danger of becoming, it seems, a vehicle for top players to use to promote their own careers and as the cases of Vidal, Koos, Gundogan and now Ramos have proved, that tends to finish with them signing bumper new contracts elsewhere.