Nick Powell will always be welcome back at Wigan Athletic, despite opting to join Championship rivals Stoke City.
That’s the message from Latics executive chairman Darren Royle, who pushed the boat out - and then again, and then once more - to try to persuade the 25-year-old to extend his stay at the DW Stadium.
“We made a number of offers to Nick, who said himself the last one was a great offer,” revealed Royle.
“There was a lot of interest in Nick, not just from Stoke but from a number of big clubs.
“In fairness to him, he was really tested by the offer we made him, it was a big decision he had to make.
“But we wish him well, he’s a top guy, and obviously a class player.
"The door here will always remain open for Nick to come back.
“We’ve loved having here and we wish him well at Stoke - although not too well when he plays against us.”
Powell was one of five signings announced this week by Stoke, whose boss Nathan Jones believes the player will thrive on the ‘big stage’ in the Potteries.
Latics helped Powell to rebuild his career, which failed to kick on after he made a £6million move from Crewe to Manchester United at the age of just 18.
“He’s had a good time at Wigan after a meteoric start to his career,” acknowledged Jones. “We are hoping we can resurrect that.
“I don’t mean that in a disrespectful way, but we want to put him on the big stage because he can be a big, big player.”
Jones also says Powell is well aware how big an opportunity this is for him to have another crack at the Premier League.
“I had a number of meetings with Nick and spoke to him about the seriousness of coming here and the implications of coming here,” the Stoke boss added.
“He had a lot of interest. When a player of that ability comes on the market, technically, without a transfer fee then clubs were queuing up.
“We identified things we wanted from an attacking midfield player and he was our number one target – but a lot comes with that in terms of the responsibility of playing for Stoke and buying into what we do.
“We had a second meeting with him and he said, ‘Look, if I want an easy ride I’d go elsewhere.’
“So he’s excited about it, he’s going to buy into everything we do and I’m very excited about working with him because he’s a wonderfully talented footballer.
"There are certain things we need to do with him but he’s a fantastic acquisition.
"There was so much competition for that signing.”