What if: Cristiano Ronaldo had signed for Barcelona
"Yes, he was offered to us for two million Euros cheaper than to United, who ended up paying €19 million," admitted former Barcelona president Joan Laporta in an interview a few months ago. He was talking about Cristiano Ronaldo – how Jorge Mendes, who had handled Rafael Marquez's and Ricardo Quaresma's moves to Barcelona in the summer of 2003, had informed them of another one of his young promising clients.
In the next instalment of our What If series, we take a look at a football world where Ronaldo moved to Barcelona instead of Manchester United straight from Sporting. How radically different would the world of football be? Here we take a look:
#1 Liverpool would have had a Premier League title to their name
Make no mistake, the Liverpool side Rafael Benitez assembled for the 2008-09 season was and remains one of the greatest lineups Premier League has witnessed. Pepe Reina in goal, Sami Hyppia and Jamie Carragher in defence, Xabi Alonso and Javier Mascherano in midfield, Steven Gerrard playing behind Fernando Torres – it was a team that oozed class in all areas of the pitch.
Yet this side could not keep up with the ruthless efficiency of Manchester United, who kept eking out 1-0 wins and injury time winners. Manchester United without Ronaldo, therefore, would fall short of their title rivals – and Liverpool fans would have had a Premier League title to their name after 19 years of wait, rather than the current predicament (27 years and counting).