Carlo Ancelotti claims he would have become Manchester United manager in 2013 had an offer not already been on the table from Real Madrid.
Three-time Champions League winner Ancelotti will return to elite coaching next season when he succeeds Pep Guardiola at Bayern Munich.
The former AC Milan, Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain boss told the Times that Alex Ferguson met him for lunch in Paris as part of the search for his successor at Old Trafford.
"[It was] a nice lunch. Alex chose the wine, really expensive.
"[But] I had already spoken to Real Madrid. For the experience, a manager has to go to Madrid.
"If it hadn't been for that, I would have come, 100 per cent."
David Moyes eventually stepped into the considerable void left by Ferguson and failed to see out the 2013-14 campaign, while Louis van Gaal is in danger of emulating his immediate predecessor by missing out on Champions League qualification ahead of Sunday's final-day fixtures in the Premier League.
Speculation continues to swirl over Van Gaal's future, while Guardiola will take up residence with City on the other side of the Manchester divide next season.
A two-time Champions League winner with Barcelona, Guardiola has failed to emulate that European success at Bayern but swept the board with three Bundesliga titles from three attempts in Bavaria.
Nevertheless, Ancelotti's vast experience tells him that the most sought-after man in modern coaching will one day become unwanted by his employers.
"At Chelsea I won the double. Sacked. At Real Madrid I won La Decima. Sacked," he explained.
"There is no manager in their career that is not sacked. Ferguson was sacked, [Marcelo] Lippi sacked, [Fabio] Capello sacked, [Jose] Mourinho sacked, [Rafael] Benitez.
"The only one not sacked is Guardiola, but he's still really young. He has plenty of time. One day he will come into our club, the Sack Club."