The Robin van Persie reunion tour rolls into Manchester today (20 October), with the experienced Dutch striker set to feature for current employers Fenerbahce in a Europa League Group A tie at Old Trafford. The fixture comes less than a month after he enjoyed a second-half cameo role in a 1-0 victory over his first club, Eredivisie leaders Feyenoord, in Istanbul.
Van Persie's potential return to Manchester United was certainly the most intriguing aspect of an otherwise tame group-stage draw that took place back in August. The 33-year-old proved an instant hit following a controversial £24m ($29.5m) switch from top-flight rivals Arsenal in August 2012, collecting his second consecutive Golden Boot award and helping to ensure that Sir Alex Ferguson's iconic 26-year reign in charge ended with a 13th Premier League title.
'RVP' netted a total of 58 goals in 105 appearances during his three-year stint with the Red Devils, a period that included a seemingly frosty relationship with David Moyes and an injury-plagued first campaign under Louis van Gaal. He was never able to replicate his exploits from that maiden season and eventually followed Nani to Fenerbahce last summer.
And while Van Persie did not appear to leave United on the best of terms, he insists he is looking forward to returning "home" on Thursday night.
"It will be a special occasion and a special game for me," he recently told MUTV at the Legends of Football event. "I know Manchester United want to be in the Champions League, but it is how it is now and for me it is a very special group in the Europa League. In the last match I had a game against one of my first teams, Feyenoord, and next it's United. I am looking forward to it.
"I am now playing for Fenerbahce and I want to do well for my team but of course it will be special to play at home in a great stadium with great fans against a great team. It will be tough for us. United are the favourites, but you never know what will happen. In general I am looking forward to a nice evening and enjoying the whole experience."
Van Persie netted 22 times during an eventful first season in Turkey as reigning champions Fenerbahce finished second behind Besiktas, but was swiftly linked with the likes of Stoke City, West Ham, Crystal Palace, newly-promoted Middlesbrough and even Scottish Premiership newcomers Rangers after reportedly falling out with manager Vitor Pereira.
He eventually opted to remain the Sukru Saracoglu Stadium, however, and has been used almost exclusively as a substitute under former Netherlands boss Dick Advocaat. His solitary goal of the season so far came in a draw with Osmanlispor earlier this month and Sunday's start in Alanyaspor was, according to Opta Sports, his first in the league for 154 days.
Discussing Van Persie during a pre-match press conference on Wednesday, United left-back Luke Shaw, who returned from a one-month absence in the tedious goalless draw against Liverpool, said: "He definitely is a threat and we know his qualities. I saw what he could do in training and games here. We're wary of him but we're focused on their whole team."