Cristiano Ronaldo is, without a doubt, one of the best players to have ever played the game of football. The Portuguese international had a meteoric rise to fame at Manchester United, who signed Ronaldo in 2003 when he was just 18 years old.
Ronaldo joined Manchester United as a skinny teenager, who was more of a trickster blessed with speed and quick feet. Ronaldo honed his game to become a prolific goal-scorer for Manchester United, leading the Red Devils to three continuous Premier League titles and a Champions League triumph before joining Real Madrid in 2009.
At Real Madrid, Ronaldo lead the club to four Champions League titles and a La Liga title. Ronaldo registered an astonishing 450 goals in 438 games for Real Madrid, winning four Ballon D'ors during his time with the Spanish giants.
Arsenal fans can only imagine how differently things might have gone had Arsene Wenger managed to convince the Portuguese superstar to join the club all those years ago. Wenger has admitted that it is a big source of regret for him.
Arsene Wenger regrets being beaten to the signing of Cristiano Ronaldo by Manchester United in 2003
In an interview with the Guardian, the French tactician admitted that the deal was all but done after he had lunch with Ronaldo and his mother, only for Manchester United to swoop in at the eleventh hour.
" Oof! I would say there is not one player, there are 50 (which I regret not signing)! On the other hand, maybe the closest was Cristiano Ronaldo, when he signed for Manchester United," Wenger said.
"We had an agreement with Sporting and Manchester United took Carlos Quieroz as assistant coach, and they 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," Wenger added.
"It's one example but there were so many. The history of a big club is full of missed great players," he concluded.
Arsene Wenger managed many a great player during his 22-year reign at Arsenal, having coached some of the greats of the game such as Thierry Henry, Dennis Bergkamp, Patrick Vieira, Ashley Cole and many more. Wenger's final decade at Arsenal was, however, a fall from grace, which may have not been so had he managed to sign Cristiano Ronaldo.Published 12 Oct 2020, 17:51 IST