CR7 has represented three of the biggest clubs in three top European leagues – but his career path could have been entirely different.
We could probably make a world-class starting XI from the players whom Arsenal missed out on signing.
Ronaldo has himself confessed that he was “very close” to becoming a Gunner while still in the budding stages of his career.
“It is true. Of course it is true,” he told ITV in September 2019. “Very close. One step. Seriously.”
It goes back to when CR7 had just started creating a buzz in the football world as a talented teenager at Sporting in the early 2000s. One among many managers who wanted to acquire his services was Arsene Wenger.
Jorge Mendes, the superstar footballer’s agent, also revealed in his biography ‘The Agent One’ that his client was close to moving to the Emirates but the transfer couldn’t go through due to Arsenal’s lack of finances.
Sir Alex Ferguson did not want Ronaldo to join Real Madrid, revealed former Los Blancos president Roman Calderon in an interview with AS.
Calderon also said that FC Barcelona were keen on landing him, but the Portuguese was eager to move to the Santiago Bernabeu.
It was, however, not the first time Barcelona missed out on Ronaldo. The Catalan club was offered the chance to sign him for €17 million back in 2003 but they turned it down.
Trying to imagine Ronaldo in any other La Liga side except Real Madrid is hard, but it could have been a reality. He could have left England much earlier – after his infamous World Cup clash with Wayne Rooney – and it was Valencia who were giving him the escape route.
Last year, Valencia’s former sporting director Amedeo Carboni revealed to Il Posticipo that the Real Madrid record goalscorer had agreed to move to Mestalla in 2006. Carboni claimed that he had “the contracts signed by [Jorge] Mendes, nothing was missing between Ronaldo, his agent and myself.”
Ultimately, the deal failed to go through and he ended up staying at Old Trafford for three more years.
4. Inter Milan
Inter Milan were one among a host of clubs linked with the signing of the five-time Ballon d’Or winner during his Sporting days.
Inter legend Sandro Mazzola previously admitted to having been left in awe of a young Ronaldo upon watching him play in Portugal, via fcinternews. Mazzola invited him to join Inter, but CR7 ignored his approach.
Mazzola even requested the Inter hierarchy to sign Ronaldo but they felt he “was not worth all that money.”[via Sempreinter]
A surprise entry on the list, but Ronaldo could have joined forces with his current employers much early in his career – at just 17 years old.
“When I was working for Juventus, I called Turin and said he was going to be the best player in the world, obviously behind Diego Maradona,” Gianni Di Marzio told EFE, via Goal.
“I negotiated and brought Cristiano to Turin in 2002 to sign for Juventus. But [Marcelo] Salas did not accept the swap deal. For a few million euros, Salas did not want to go and he later ended up at River Plate.
“That is how Juventus lost Cristiano Ronaldo. [His agent Jorge Mendes] knows this story very well.”