Arsenal fans, look what you could have won…
Cristiano Ronaldo has revealed he was close to joining the Gunners before a better offer came in from Manchester United.
“There had been contacts with so many other teams,” Ronaldo told TV1, as quoted by Manchester Evening News.
“Valencia, for example, were one of them. I met with Arsene Wenger and was about to go to Arsenal. I talked to Barcelona, Real Madrid and Inter too.”
“But after the friendly against Manchester United, who were already interested, they became even more interested and they sped up negotiations and signed me.”
Ronaldo played for Sporting Lisbon in a friendly against Sir Alex Ferguson’s Reds on the August 7th 2003 in a pre-season friendly at the Jose Alvalade Stadium.
It became apparent in Sporting’s 3-1 win that day that Ronaldo must be signed, and just five days later, a deal was announced to bring the Portuguese prodigy to Old Trafford.
The rest, as they say, is history.
So, let’s take a look at what Arsenal fans missed out on in Ronaldo’s six years in England.
During his time at Old Trafford, Ronaldo won the Balon D’or, Premier League footballer of the year on two occasions, plus a hatful of other individual awards including a golden boot.
By the time he had left for Real Madrid, Ronaldo had contributed to an era of United dominance, and established himself as arguably the best player in world football.
Sir Alex Ferguson’s side won three consecutive Premier League’s, a Champions League, one FA Cup, two League Cups and a Club World Cup during the Ronaldo era.
In the same time period, Arsenal fans had celebrated one Premier League title, one FA Cup… and a community shield. Surely Ronaldo would have put them in contention for more trophies?
But it’s not as if we haven’t snatched a world-class player from the Gunners before; Robin Van Persie left Arsenal in his prime to make sure Sir Alex secured our 20th title, before receiving a guard of honour on his Emirates return.