Portuguese superstar Cristiano Ronaldo rose to global fame during his splendid stint with Manchester United, ultimately paving way for his move to Real Madrid. Back then, Man United manager Sir Alex Ferguson was against his switch to the Spanish capital and instead advised him on a move to Barcelona. Interestingly, the Camp Nou outfit were keen on signing the player. The then-Barcelona president Joan Laporta now reveals the club were offered the opportunity to sign him as early as 2003.
Laporta was at the helm at Camp Nou between 2003 and 2010, playing a key role in setting up the golden generation of Barcelona. The former president, who is again on the verge of replacing Josep Maria Bartomeu at the highest office, now claims he could have signed Ronaldo even before his move to Man United.
Altri 3 punti importantissimi! Felice di aver dato il mio contributo! 🏳️🏴💪🏽 pic.twitter.com/jR2IRe58sk— Cristiano Ronaldo (@Cristiano) January 10, 2021
Laporta reveals the then-Portuguese youngster was offered to the Catalan giants in 2003, the same year he agreed to a move to Old Trafford. But Barcelona gave up the opportunity on signing the youngster while moving ahead to facilitate the arrival of Brazilian legend Ronaldinho from Paris Saint-Germain (PSG).
During an interview with Spanish media publication Marca, Laporta revealed that one of his agents said they had a player who they sold to (Manchester) United for €19 million, but they would sell him for €17 million. But Barcelona had already invested in Ronaldinho at that time as Cristiano Ronaldo played more out wide than in the centre.
Laporta insists though that he does not regret the transfer failure. The Portuguese forward went on to seal the move to Old Trafford, becoming the most expensive teenager in the world then. Meanwhile, Ronaldinho achieved enormous success with the Blaugrana during his five-year spell, guiding them to Champions League glory in 2006.
Ronaldo did the same with Man United in 2008, while also winning his first Ballon d'Or title that very season. He ultimately sealed a move to Barcelona's arch-rivals Real Madrid in 2009, ending up as the all-time goalscorer. Thus it would be unfair to criticise the transfer activity of the two European giants.