Barcelona were offered the chance to sign Cristiano Ronaldo before he joined Manchester United, former president Joan Laporta has claimed, adding that he does not regret missing out on the Portuguese.
The talismanic forward has been a prolific presence in front of goal across a trophy-laden career, with 35-year-old Ronaldo continuing to thrive with Serie A giants Juventus to this day.
Indeed, his five Ballon d’Or awards are bettered only by Barcelona talisman Lionel Messi, who has six, with both widely regarded as two of the best players to have ever played the game.
And Laporta has now claimed that the pair could well have been team-mates at Camp Nou, with the 58-year-old, who is running to be elected Barca president for a second time in the forthcoming elections, revealing that Barca were offered the chance to sign Ronaldo.Article continues below
“We were about to sign Ronaldinho and Rafa Marquez,” Laporta said during an interview with Iniestazo. “Marquez’s people proposed Cristiano Ronaldo to us. He was at Sporting at the time.
“One of his agents said that they had a player who they had sold to [Manchester] United for 19 million, but they’d sell him to us for 17 million.
“But we had already invested in Ronaldinho at the time. Cristiano played more out wide than in the centre. We thought we were covered, so we rejected him and I don’t regret it.”
Despite Barca seemingly shunning the chance to sign Ronaldo, former Brazil international Ronaldinho enjoyed considerable success with the Catalan giants, while he also helped mentor Messi at the time of his emergence in the first team.
Ronaldo, meanwhile, would go on to complete a switch to Old Trafford, winning three Premier League titles and the Champions League under Sir Alex Ferguson before being granted a switch to Real Madrid.
During his time in Spain, Ronaldo became Madrid’s record scorer and helped them win two league titles and four Champions League trophies, among many other personal and team accolades.
He has since claimed two Serie A titles with Juve although it remains to be seen if he’ll be able to secure a third in the 2020-21 season, with Andrea Pirlo’s side currently fourth in the table, seven points behind leaders AC Milan but with a game in hand.