Cristiano Ronaldo could”ve been an Arsenal player in 2003 before he went to Old Trafford if reports in The Mirror are to be believed. In a remarkable move Ronaldo’s agent Jorge Mendes revealed how close the superstar player came to signing for The Gunners.
The 27 year old forward who is widely regarded as one of the most gifted players of his generation signed for United from Sporting Lisbon in the summer of 2003 for £12.24m. In his six years at Old Trafford he helped the club to three Premier League titles, one F.A. Cup win, three League Cups and a UEFA Champions League final victory over Chelsea. He then went on to sign for Real Madrid in the summer of 2009 after requesting to leave, for a fee of £80m.
But according to his agent it could have all been so different. The Portuegese forward was on Arsenal’s radar long before there was any interest from United. Arsene Wenger had scouts assessing the winger on numerous occasions and it looked as though Ronaldo would be signed in time for the 2003/4 season.
But Ronaldo soon came to the attention of Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson in a friendly in which Sporting beat United 3-1.
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.
This must be the kind of news Arsenal fans could do without. The thought of what could have been for the Gunners had Ronaldo been on board for the six seasons he spent at United must be torture. Not only what Arsenal could have done with the wingers services but also, especially for none Arsenal fans, what successes United would not have acheived.
Of course these thoughts are just speculative. Had Ronaldo ended up at The Emirates there would be no guarantees that he would have performed as well, stayed as long or ultimately made the profit he did for Alex Ferguson.
One would assume that for nearly every single football transfer there are more than one interested party and it would seem an excersie in futility to go into ‘what could have been’ every time. The message behind the article seems to be that because Arsene Wenger takes time and is cautious over transfers he misses out on talent. But on the other hand maybe it is this caution that prevents him from paying £35m or £50m on misfiring strikers!?
The real story behind the article for me is why Jorge Mendes is raking up the past at all. Agents are generally quiet and few give them any column space apart from when there are transfers afoot. Should we read inbetween the lines? Is
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