Robin van Persie looks likely to make a return to Old Trafford this season after former club Manchester United were paired with current employers Fenerbahce in the draw for the group stages of the 2016-17 Europa League. The Dutch striker scored 58 goals in 105 appearances for the club in a three-year spell that followed a controversial £24m ($31.6m) move from rivals Arsenal in 2012, winning one Premier League title and his second consecutive Golden Boot award during Sir Alex Ferguson's final season at the helm.
Van Persie regressed during the short-lived reign of David Moyes and endured something of an injury-plagued final season at United, scoring only 10 times under Louis van Gaal before being sold to Fenerbahce — along with winger Nani, who has since joined Valencia — for an undisclosed fee. He notched 22 goals in Turkey last term but has been linked with a summer move away from the Sukru Saracoglu Stadium amid reported interest from the likes of Stoke City and Rangers.
United's other Group A opponents decided during Friday afternoon's draw in Monaco are 14-time Eredivisie winners Feyenoord — another of Van Persie's former clubs — and tournament debutants Zorya Luhansk, who usually play their football in eastern Ukraine but have been forced to move west to Zaporizhia due to the ongoing conflict in the region.
Commenting on the draw, Jose Mourinho said: "We think we are in Champions League, very similar groups in the Champions League. It is difficult group but it is good. It's a big match to play in Istanbul as it is in Rotterdam — it's good for us."
After West Ham's second successive elimination at the hands of Romanian champions Astra Giurgiu, sixth-place finishers Southampton were the only other English representatives in the draw. The Saints, beaten by FC Midtjylland in the play-off round in 2015, are making their first appearance in the group stages of Europe's secondary club competition and have been handed a tough test in Group K against Inter Milan, Sparta Prague and Israeli outfit Hapoel Be'er Sheva.
Meanwhile, Irish champions Dundalk will face Zenit St Petersburg, AZ Alkmaar and Maccabi Tel Aviv in Group D. Stephen Kenny's side almost became the first team from the Emerald Isle ever to qualify for the group stages of the Champions League but for a 2-1 aggregate defeat to Legia Warsaw.