Luke Berry's return to Cambridge from Barnsley came after a "chance call" between the two club's managers, says U's chief executive Jez George.
Midfielder Berry, 22, rejoined the U's on Monday after one term with Barnsley.
"Richard [Money] was on the phone to Barnsley boss Lee Johnson talking about a few things and threw in the question to test the water," said George.
"He played a lot under [previous boss] Danny Wilson, but was out of the team for the majority of Lee's time."
George continued to BBC Radio Cambridgeshire: "It was a question worth asking and the response he gave gave us us enough to pursue it."
Berry played 128 times for the U's after coming through their youth system, and helped them win promotion back to the Football League in 2014.
He joined the Tykes last summer, and after playing 37 games in total, George believes Berry was surprised the League One side would let him go.
"I guess it was shock originally as I think he had no idea Barnsley would consider selling him," said George.
"But we had a good chat on Saturday morning and he was excited.
"Everyone thinks the world of him. We're delighted he could come back and see that there's a real future for the club."