By Emma Sanders
Arsenal could have signed Cristiano Ronaldo ahead of Manchester United if they had more money at the time, according to former Gunners scout Damien Comolli.
The Portugal international attracted interest from north London during his early days at Sporting Lisbon and even visited Arsenal’s London Colney training ground.
However, the Gunners were unable to reach an agreement to bring Ronaldo to Highbury, opening the door for United to sign him in 2003.
Comolli, who held the director of football post at Liverpool and Tottenham, revealed that Ronaldo visited Arsenal’s training camp on two occasions before joining the club’s big Premier League rivals.
“When it came to making the transfer, there was no money,” Comolli told French TV station SFR Sport, as quoted by the Sky Sports website.
“Some months later, Manchester United secured a partnership with Sporting and they played a friendly match in Lisbon.
“He slaughtered them and Sir Alex Ferguson said, ‘he must go to United.”
“He came to the [Arsenal] training centre twice. Nobody knows that. He met Thierry [Henry], who was his idol.”
The three-time Ballon D’or winner signed for Manchester United for over £12 million in 2003 and went on to become a world sensation.
The forward has won almost every major trophy possible, except the World Cup but has broken numerous individual records.
He’s regarded by many as one of the best footballers ever in the history of the sport and will forever be remembered as Manchester United’s most talented star.
However, if Arsenal could’ve signed Ronaldo all those years ago and the Gunners’ history may have been very different.
Comolli claimed he had never seen a player like Ronaldo except from when watching Theirry Henry and it is clear he regrets the fact Arsenal were never able to sign him.
“The first time I saw Ronaldo, it was at the Montaigu tournament, he was 15. He played against Japan and I thought, ‘who the hell is this?’ said Comoli.
“At half-time, I called my contact in Portugal to which I said that I had seen a phenomenon. Since Theirry Henry, I had never seen anyone like that.”