Arsene Wenger was known for his ability to identify and develop future world beaters during his time as Arsenal boss. His best finds include the likes of Patrick Vieira, Cesc Fabregas and Nicolas Anelka.
In an exclusive interview in the November 2020 issue of FourFourTwo, which is in shops from Wednesday, October 21 and is available to pre-order here, Wenger reveals how close he also came to signing Cristiano Ronaldo in 2003. Denying football fans the chance to see the Portuguese superstar paired with Thierry Henry is a regret he still lives with to this day.
“When I had Thierry, I could have signed [Cristiano] Ronaldo – can you imagine what they could have done together?" He tells FFT with a smile. "That makes you sweat a little bit, and I was very close to doing it. I thought it was all done."
The young Ronaldo ultimately opted to join Manchester United from Sporting Lisbon. He would go on to win three Premier League titles, one FA Cup, two League Cups, the Champions League and a host of personal gongs during his six-year spell at Old Trafford.
More winners medals awaited in subsequent spells at Real Madrid and Juventus, with Ronaldo now considered one of the greatest players ever to grace a football pitch. But Wenger knows every club, and every manager, has stories of the ones who got away.
“It was that close," he explains – holding his index finger and thumb within a millimetre of each other "But I would say that every club could tell you stories like that.”
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