Juventus striker Cristiano Ronaldo won the Ballon d’Or, three Premier League titles and the Champions League during six very successful years at Manchester United
Cristiano Ronaldo: All you need to know about Man Utd-linked star
Cristiano Ronaldo spent many happy years at Manchester United where he won the Champions League, a Ballon d’Or and three Premier League titles.
The thought of him playing for a different English team to the Red Devils is hard to imagine, but the Portugal international’s move to Man United wasn’t always a foregone conclusion.
Back in 2003, before Sir Alex Ferguson and co. snapped up a young Ronaldo from Sporting Lisbon, after being thoroughly impressed by him in a Champions League game, Liverpool were in the driving seat for his signature.
In fact, the Reds were close to sewing up a £4million deal for the future great, and Liverpool bosses Gerard Houllier and Phil Thompson were delighted with the transfer they had managed to – what they thought – get over the line.
UEFA via Getty Images)
Thompson, 67, went to dinner with football agent Tony Henry in Lisbon to thrash out the finer details of the deal.
He later recalled to The Athletic: “I can still remember Tony’s exact words.
“It was all very nice and relaxed. It’s £4million and it can be paid over the four years of his contract, so £1million a year. That seemed very reasonable.
“Then I asked about the salary and Tony told me it was £1 million a year, net.”
Everything appeared too good to be true from a Liverpool standpoint, and that, unfortunately for the Reds, proved to be the case.
Out of nowhere, Manchester United moved ahead of Liverpool in the race for Ronaldo’s signature, and then went one better by closing the deal.
Thompson added: “On the Tuesday morning, we were having lunch at the training ground and it came up on the yellow strap on Sky Sports, ‘Manchester United have signed Cristiano Ronaldo for £12.2million.’
“Gerard and myself almost choked on our food. I can remember Gerard jumping up and saying, ‘What the hell has gone on there?'”
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Ronaldo spent six seasons with United winning countless accolades before finally joining Real Madrid in 2009.
He continued to win silverware during his nine years in Spain before jetting to Italy and signing for Serie A giants Juventus.
This summer Ronaldo has been linked with a transfer back to Old Trafford, but a deal has yet to materialise, with United instead snapping up Jadon Sancho.