The circumstances around Ronaldo’s move to Man Utd in 2003 have been well documented, after his performance against them in a pre-season friendly for Sporting Lisbon urged Sir Alex Ferguson to demand his signature.
United were on the hunt for a creative talent, having tried and failed to land Brazil icon Ronaldinho that same summer.
The PSG star instead opted to snub a switch to Old Trafford in favour of the Camp Nou.
It was a rejection which hurt United, and Fergie, though perhaps the blow has finally been softened.
Because as it happened, Barcelona could have snapped up Ronaldo too. And for less than United paid for him.
But having already added a World Cup winner to their ranks, they deemed it an unnecessary transfer, as Barca’s former president Joan Laporta explained.
“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.
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“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.”
Ronaldo eventually came out of his shell at United before later providing a constant thorn in Barcelona’s side following his move to Real Madrid.
Though it’s perhaps understandable that Laporta would not change his decision.
At the time, as he discussed, the 18-year-old Ronaldo was very much a right-winger only – a position later taken up with aplomb by a young Messi.
Who is better: Ronaldo or Messi? Have your say below.
Sometimes too many cooks can spoil the broth, and it is arguable there would simply not have been room for both Messi and Ronaldo in Barca’s line-up through the key stages of their development – particularly when Ronaldinho was running the show.
Of course the rest is history, and with both Messi and Ronaldo now in the twilight of their careers the chances of seeing them on the same side are growing even more unlikely.
Then again, never say never.