Arsene Wenger claims Arsenal missed out on Cristiano Ronaldo before Man Utd move

Arsene Wenger has revealed Cristiano Ronaldo agreed to join Arsenal before Manchester United swooped in and hijacked the deal.

Ronaldo cemented a legacy as one of the greatest footballers in history at Real Madrid, but his first taste of success came at United.

The Portuguese superstar left Sporting Lisbon to join Sir Alex Ferguson’s side in 2003 and went on to score 118 goals in 292 appearances, helping them clinch three Premier League titles and the Champions League before sealing a then-world-record £80million move to the Bernabeu.

His breathtaking form for the Red Devils must have been a bitter pill to swallow for Wenger, who was on the verge of bringing him to Arsenal.

When asked which player he regrets failing to sign most, the former Gunners boss told The Guardian: “Oof! I would say there is not one player, there are 50!

“On the other hand, maybe the closest [to that] was Cristiano Ronaldo, when he signed for Man United.

“We had an agreement with Sporting and Man United took Carlos Queiroz as assistant coach, and they just outbid us quickly and took Ronaldo.

“But we had an agreement basically. He had the shirt of Arsenal, I had lunch with him and his mother at the training ground!

“It’s one example but there were so many. The history of a big club is full of missed great players!”

Ronaldo is not the only world-class player Wenger missed out on in his time at Arsenal, with the Frenchman also revealing last year that he came close to signing Barcelona legend Lionel Messi.

“We were in discussions with [Messi] when we bought [Cesc] Fabregas, because Messi played [with him],” he told beIN SPORTS in 2019.

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“You can realise sometimes what fantastic youth teams you had before when you’re a club like Barcelona. In the same team, Messi, [Gerard] Pique and Fabregas.

“Pique and Fabregas came to England [with Manchester United and Arsenal respectively], Messi stayed in Spain. We were interested in him, but he was untouchable at the time.”

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