Jose Mourinho has accused Manchester City of sour grapes over their failed pursuit of Alexis Sanchez by likening Manchester United’s new recruit to an orange at the top of a tree.
United secured two major deals this week by beating their neighbours to the signing of Sanchez before announcing on Thursday that Mourinho had penned a new contract that runs until 2020, with the option for a further year.
City attempted to sign Sanchez in the last window and were expected to move again this month when it became clear the 29-year-old wanted to leave Arsenal before his contract expired in the summer.
However, Pep Guardiola’s team pulled out of the race upon hearing of the Gunners’ £35million price tag and Sanchez’s wage demands, paving the way for United to clinch a straight swap deal that saw Henrikh Mkhitaryan join the Gunners.
Even when it became apparent their rivals had entered the running, Premier League leaders City were still willing to walk away rather than pay a total package they considered over the odds.
"I didn’t listen to anyone moaning about (the cost)," Mourinho said.
"I think Alexis reminds me a little bit of the history - I don’t know, it’s not a history, almost a metaphor - when you see a tree with amazing oranges in the top of the tree and then you cannot get there.
"You say, ’Oh, I got the lower ones because I don’t like the ones at the top’. You like the ones at the top. They are so nice, so orange, so round, so full of juice but you cannot get there, so you say, ’I don’t want to go there’ or ’I didn’t like, I prefer the other ones.’ I think it reminds me a little bit of that story."
City had been confident Sanchez was keen on a reunion with his ex-Barcelona boss Guardiola this month but were reluctant to make him their highest paid player.
The Chilean had been called "the biggest mercenary in football" by ex-Gunners defender Martin Keown amid rumours he could end up accruing close to £500,000 per week in total, but Mourinho dismissed the notion his decision to join United was purely a case of money talking.
"I know that if other clubs did not get him it’s not a problem of money, for sure," he added.
"That’s not a problem of money. You go and analyse the numbers and Manchester City spent more money than us, Chelsea spent more money than us, I think even Everton spent more money than us. I don’t think that’s the problem.
"When people speak about salaries, first of all I have many doubts. I am sure the numbers that are written are not exactly the numbers. Secondly, you have to put things in perspective.
"How much would Alexis Sanchez cost on a normal transfer, from club to club, as a player with two or three years of contract? We look to the numbers now and I would say roughly between £100-150million.
"So you put things into perspective - you go to the numbers that the club didn’t pay on the transfer. You go to the numbers that the club pays in salaries, which are obviously higher than others, but you put things into perspective. "
Shortly after his press conference on Wednesday, United confirmed Mourinho had signed a contract extension to the deal he originally agreed when taking over in 2016.
The ex-Porto, Chelsea, Inter Milan and Real Madrid boss Mourinho won the EFL Cup and Europa League, as well as the Community Shield, in his first season and would have served the longest managerial stint of his career if he stays until his new deal expires.
"We have set very high standards - winning three trophies in one season - but those are the standards I expect my teams to aim for," Mourinho told manutd.com.
"We are creating the conditions for a brilliant and successful future for Manchester United."