Departing Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has admitted he was close to sealing the transfer of Cristiano Ronaldo in what would have been a stunning move.
The Portuguese goal machine ended up at Manchester United instead, before eventually leaving and hitting even greater heights with a switch to Real Madrid in 2009.
One of the finest players of his generation, there is no question Ronaldo could have had an amazing impact at Arsenal, and it’s clear Wenger is well aware of that now.
The Frenchman was speaking in a question-and-answer session with fans and made the Ronaldo revelation when asked about which player he most regretted missing out on.
‘I nearly signed Ronaldo and I think that would have changed the history of Arsenal Football Club. The Ronaldo story was very, very close,’ Wenger is quoted in the Metro.
Wenger added that Arsenal also tried to sign Lionel Messi and Gerard Pique from Barcelona but failed to add them to their successful poaching of Cesc Fabregas in 2003.
‘Messi as well, because we were interested in him,’ he added. ‘When Fabregas came here we asked Messi and Pique to join as well, that didn’t work.’
Messi and Ronaldo at Arsenal would have made things very different indeed and it’s hard to imagine Wenger wouldn’t have added a few more league titles and the Champions League if those moves had come off.
Still, the legendary manager can look back fondly on 22 years at Arsenal working with legends of the game such as Thierry Henry and Dennis Bergkamp, who helped him to great success.