Super-agent Jorge Mendes has revealed what led Cristiano Ronaldo to turn down many tempting offers to join Manchester United.
Back in 2003, Cristiano Ronaldo was the biggest young prospect in football at Sporting CP. Countless clubs came calling for his signature, including Arsenal and Liverpool. But he eventually put pen-to-paper on a Manchester United contract instead.
The 18-year-old signed on the dot for a then-world-record transfer of €19m after destroying the Red Devils defence in a pre-season friendly. In fact, he so impressive that Sir Alex Ferguson immediately pursued him afterwards.
Quickly brushing aside Man United’s humbling 3-1 defeat, Fergie met Ronaldo afterwards. He soon swayed the teenager by making his interest crystal clear. A deal was brokered shortly afterwards.
Now Mendes has revealed how Fergie pulled off perhaps one of the biggest coups in football history.
“I’ve always maintained that the coach is, in the end, the most important component in any transfer,” Mendes told SportBusiness.
“Cristiano Ronaldo is a perfect example.
“Every club wanted him, but they all wanted him to have another season loaned back to Sporting.
“The only person who seemed willing to take him on immediately was Sir Alex Ferguson and, at that time, I had no doubt it was the best solution.
“My decision, made without a second thought, was that Manchester United was the ideal club for him. I’m sure that, if Cristiano Ronaldo had stayed at Sporting, he wouldn’t have played half the games he played for Manchester in the first season, at the end of which, by the way, he was voted the team’s best player by the fans.”