Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi could have been teammates playing for Barcelona. The La Liga champions' former president Joan Laporta has revealed that his side had an opportunity to bring the Portuguese international to Camp Nou in 2003, the same summer where he won the club's election to become the chief.
Real Madrid and Barcelona are the two biggest rivals in the La Liga and the game in recent years have also been billed as a direct tussle between Ronaldo and Messi, who are the two biggest names in the world football.
Ronaldo, then 18, was at Sporting CP and was coming through the ranks of the club's academy before breaking into the first team. He impressed for his first club and had already attracted interest from the top clubs across Europe.
At the same time, Barcelona had signed Ronaldinho, Rafael Márquez and Ricardo Quaresma once Laporta was appointed as the president at Camp Nou. Marquez and Quaresma were sharing the same agent as Ronaldo's agent, who is super agent Jorge Mendes.
Mendes offered his then young client to Barcelona for €17 million. However, Barcelona were given a blow when Sir Alex Ferguson took him to Manchester United, who paid €2 million more to Sporting for bringing the Portuguese teenager to Old Trafford.
"When we [the new administration] arrived, we signed Ronaldinho, [Rafael] Márquez and [Ricardo] Quaresma," Laporta told Spanish newspaper Marca.
"We were in a process of reconstruction," he said. "Cristiano was at Sporting CP and he was close to signing for United. The player's agent, who was handling Márquez and Quaresma [...] said, 'I've got another really good player who's called Cristiano Ronaldo.'
"We told him we knew about him and he offered him to us for two million [euros] cheaper than to United, who ended up paying 19 million (Euros)."
Ronaldo went on to became a star at United, where he terrorised the Premier League defenders. Along with the multiple silverware he won with the Red Devils, he was instrumental in helping his former club win the Champions League.
A year later Ronaldo moved to Real for a world record fee, which was then broken when his club signed Gareth Bale from Tottenham Hotspur. That record no longer holds good as it is now held by Manchester United who paid a world-record fee for Paul Pogba last summer.
The former United legend is the star player at the Spanish capital club and he will be leading his side's attack when his side takes on Barcelona in the first El Clasico of this season at Camp Nou.
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