How Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo almost became teammates in 2003
We are all privileged to watch Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo play. The two are undoubtedly the best footballers the world has ever seen and the debate of who among them is the Greatest Of All Time will never end.
While Messi has been carrying Barcelona for a long time, Cristiano has been doing so at Real Madrid. One thing we have always wanted to see is the two play together once – but sadly that has never happened, not even in a friendly match.
The wish to watch might have become real, way before they even made their mark in the world of football. Just before they started to take the world by a storm, one certain club wanted to sign them both.
That club was none other than Juventus. The Serie A giants were keen on signing both the players as Fabio Capello saw the potential in both to become the best in the world and how right was he!
JUVENTUS' MOVE FOR MESSI:
Juventus first made the move for Messi during a friendly between the Italian side and Barcelona. Just 25 minutes into the game, Capello went to Rijkaard, then Barcelona manager, and asked him to loan the Argentine to the Turin side.
“It's completely true that I asked Rijkaard if he would loan me Messi for Juventus,” said Capello. Barcelona were allowed to play just 3 foreign players in their starting XI and the Juve manager tried to take advantage of it and sign Messi.
“When the play had stopped for a minute I went over to Rijkaard and said: 'You can't play him because you've got three foreigners already. Why don't you let me have him for a year?'” explained the former England manager.
However, Rijkaard rejected the idea of loaning him straight away and one can only imagine what would if he had agreed to send him out. That wasn't the only attempt they made to sign him.
The Old Lady of Turin made a move for him a couple of years later as well but before they could do anything significant, the Calciopoli scandal hit them hard and they were demoted to Serie B. By the time Juventus were back in the Serie A, Messi had established himself and the world was talking about the young Argentine who was very similar to Maradonna.
JUVENTUS' MOVE FOR RONALDO:
While the move for Messi was rejected straight away by Barcelona, Sporting CP were set to sell Cristiano Ronaldo to Juventus. The Italian side were on the verge of signing him when Manchester United stole him at the last moment.
Italian agent, Moggi worked on the deal to get Ronaldo on out Sporting Lisbon along with Jorge Mende, who was keen on taking Ronaldo to Italy. Moggi revealed: “On 2003, Mendes was looking to engineer a move for his first great player: Cristiano Ronaldo. He was a kid of 18 who had just made his debut for Sporting and Mendes wanted him to move to Italy.”
Juventus weren't the only club that Ronaldo was offered to. “We tried to help them out and offered him to Parma and Lazio but he was rejected by both. Juventus, on the other hand, said yes and sent us to Lisbon with Mendes to tie up the deal with Sporting.” Moggi went on to explain.
Just as Menged went back to Lisbon and began holding talks with the Portuguese side to get a deal done, Manchester United swooped in. The Red Devils wasted no time and signed the 18-year-old in just half-a-day according to Moggi.