Gabriele Marcotti in the Sunday Herald:
‘United paid £7m for the hulking 24-year-old Serb, who had been at Spartak Moscow since January 2004. This surprised more than a few people because it was an open secret among European agents that Vidic had a £4.8m release fee in his contract, which basically meant anyone who showed up with the money could walk away with him, provided he agreed terms.
‘That's what Fiorentina general manager Pantaleo Corvino thought he had done last November, when he flew to Moscow and met with Vidic. According to Corvino, Vidic agreed terms with the Italian club, who then pledged to pay Spartak £4.8m to secure his release as soon as the transfer window opened. You can imagine Fiorentina's surprise when, just before Christmas, Spartak announced that he had been sold to United for £7m.
‘For an incredible 24 hours Fiorentina threatened fire and brimstone. They were ready to appeal to FIFA and take Spartak to court since, after all, Vidic had signed a post-dated contract...or had he? Corvino let slip that he had when he said: "That guy obviously enjoys signing his name." The problem for Fiorentina was it was illegal for Vidic to sign with them in November. Post-dated contracts are illegal too. And it was rather dubious for him to meet with Corvino without Spartak's permission.
‘Thus a fuming Fiorentina quietly withdrew their complaint after being gazumped by United who were offering Vidic a better deal financially and were also ready to pay Spartak £7m for his signature. And, of course, that's the mystery. If he had a £4.8m release fee, why are United paying £7m, or £2.2m more than necessary?
‘The rumour goes that, having got wind of Vidic's deal with Fiorentina, certain Spartak "supporters" decided to "persuade" him to change his mind so the club could earn more than £4.8m. In fact, when United offered that amount - Vidic himself was "persuaded" to turn down the move. Only to then agree to it shortly thereafter when the Old Trafford club offered £2.2m more in transfer fees.’