Cristiano Ronaldo might have ended up at Arsenal well before Manchester United signed him, according to former Gunners’ scout Damien Comolli.
Sir Alex Ferguson demanded the Old Trafford hierarchy to sign Ronaldo shortly after the then Sporting Lisbon youngster ripped the United team apart in a friendly.
However, Comolli has revealed that the Portuguese star had actually visited Arsenal’s training facility twice, and met his idol Thierry Henry, but the club failed to put out an offer and United snapped him up a few months later.
“The first time I saw Ronaldo, it was at the Montaigu tournament, he was 15,” former Tottenham and Liverpool director of football Comolli told French TV station SFR Sport.
“He played against Japan before and I thought: ‘Who the hell is this?’
“At half-time, I called my contact in Portugal to which I said that I had seen a phenomenon. Since Thierry Henry, I had never seen anyone like that.
“He came to the [Arsenal] training centre twice. Nobody knows that. He met Thierry, who was his idol. But when it came to making the transfer, there was no money.
“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’.”
Ronaldo went on to achieve superstar status at United, and was crowned the best player in the world for the first time in 2008. He then went on to sign for Real Madrid, won two more Ballon d’Ors, and is now regarded as one of, if not the best player to have ever played the game.