Louis van Gaal's admiration for Kevin Strootman is no secret, the Dutchman a key part of his international set up before his ACL injury.
We may never know, but the midfielder may have been the difference maker between a World Cup win and a semi-final exit.
Strootman is on the cusp of a return with Roma, great news for the Serie A side who have real belief they can oust Juventus and win the title this season.
The cloud hanging over them is Manchester United's reported January interest in Strootman, and sporting director Walter Sabatini spoke out on that on Thursday.
His comments were widely reported from a 'not for sale' stance, which is Roma's position, but he dropped a couple of hints, accidentally perhaps, that ultimately it could be beyond their control.
SkySports report: "He is an extraordinary player, and these rumours [of his sale] have been based on the desires of other clubs.
"Of course he is unsellable, but we must contextualise that I do not say he is for sale. We receive offers, protect him and defend him, but I do not know what will happen.
“For now we enjoy him even whilst he is injured. We are not thinking in any way of selling him, we hope to have him return. We must have patience and wait, he is a decisive player."
The line 'I do not know what will happen', shows Sabatini has been around the block enough times to know no player is really 'unsellable'.
Roma had no intent, originally, to sell Erik Lamela last summer, and Mehdi Benatia this time, only to eventually cave in. When the offer is big enough, they will consider it.
Part of their frustration is, they have only seen Strootman for just over half a season in a Roma shirt, so will want to get a little more out of him.
United's chances in January could depend on Roma's Champions League progression, and after landing in a group with Manchester City, Bayern Munich and CSKA Moscow, moving onto the knockout stages and giving the Dutchman an extra reason to stick around, is far from assured.