Arsene Wenger has revealed that Cristiano Ronaldo could have joined Arsenal instead of Manchester United in 2003. The Frenchman also admitted that not signing the forward is one of his biggest regrets.
Wenger is regarded by many as one of the best managers in Premier League history. The Frenchman took charge of Arsenal in 1996 and managed the club for 22 years before stepping down in 2018.
During his time as Arsenal manager, Wenger led the club to 17 trophies, including three Premier League titles. The 72-year-old was also in charge of the Gunners when they went a whole season unbeaten and earned the nickname 'The Invincibles' in 2004.
Arsenal won the Premier League title in the 2003-04 season, while also remaining unbeaten. Winning the title as Invincibles is considered one of Wenger's biggest achievements as a manager.
One person who missed out on the opportunity to be a part of a historic squad is Ronaldo. Wenger has revealed that Arsenal were close to signing the Portugal international from Sporting Lisbon before he joined Manchester United in the summer of 2003.
The Frenchman also conceded that not signing Ronaldo in 2003 was one of his biggest regrets as a manager. Asked who he would have loved to add to the Invincibles squad, Wenger told TalkSPORT:
"At the time, it was [Cristiano] Ronaldo. He played at Manchester United in 2004 and he is one of the players I regret not to have signed because we were very close [to signing him from Sporting Lisbon]."
Ronaldo, though, will not have too many regrets about not joining Arsenal as he went on to enjoy significant success with Manchester United. He helped the Red Devils win nine trophies before joining Real Madrid in 2009.
Cristiano Ronaldo eyes another fruitful spell with Manchester United
Cristiano Ronaldo put an end to his six-year association with Manchester United by joining Real Madrid in 2009. The 36-year-old then had an immense time in the Spanish capital, winning five Ballon d'Or awards, as well as many trophies with the club.
In 2018, Ronaldo moved to Juventus with the hope of enjoying similar success in Italy. However, the move did not go according to plan and he decided to return to Manchester United in what was one of the biggest transfers of the summer.
Having returned to Old Trafford, Ronaldo has set his eyes on enjoying another fruitful stint with the Red Devils. The Portugal international also intends to bring glory days back to the club.
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However, Ronaldo's first season back at Manchester United has got off to a turbulent start. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side currently sit sixth in the Premier League.