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.
Cristiano Ronaldo developed into one of the greatest players in world football at Manchester United
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.
But Arsene Wenger claims the Portuguese superstar had agreed to join Arsenal before United swooped in and hijacked the deal
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“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 had lunch with Wenger before deciding to join the Red Devils
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…