The agent of Cristiano Ronaldo has revealed how close Arsenal came to signing the Portuguese attacker before he moved to Manchester United.
The Daily Mail quote Jorge Mendes as saying that Arsenal had the chance to sign Ronaldo nine years ago when he was still at Sporting Lisbon, but with everything in place the Gunners stalled on finalising the deal.
This indecision opened the door for Man Utd, who found out first hand just how good Ronaldo was when they played Lisbon in a pre season friendly in 2003, and it was the United players who convinced Ferguson to snap him up.
The rest is history, as Ronaldo developed into one of the best players on the planet at Old Trafford and after six years was sold to Real Madrid for £80m. Mendes also revealed that both Spurs and Arsenal were interested in Nani, but again both were too slow to act of their interest. Here’s what he said to the Daily Mail:
‘I remember what happened to Ronaldo at Arsenal,’ Mendes said.
‘They watched him nine or ten times, and when everything seemed decided, then Manchester United played at the inauguration of the Alvaladze Stadium (Sporting Lisbon) and the players themselves urged Ferguson to buy him.
‘Nani was also followed by Tottenham and Arsenal, but as I say, who sleeps in business loses.’ Mendes is quoted as saying by the Daily Mail.
Missing out on Ronaldo must go down as one of Arsene Wenger’s biggest regrets. Of course there is no way of knowing how he would have developed at Arsenal compared to United, but Wenger is a great nurturer of young talent, as is Fergie, so it’s highly likely Ronaldo would still have progressed into a world-wide super star. The only difference is Arsenal would probably have sold him to Barcelona instead of Real Madrid