Cristiano Ronaldo is one of the best players in Manchester United history after all the great things he did with the Red Devils. Not many foreign players have made the impact CR7 made at Old Trafford, but that could be very different for everybody if Ronaldo had signed with other Premier League giants in 2003.
He may have ended up at Liverpool back in 2003 if it wasn’t for his wage demands and the fact that the Reds believed they had two youngsters so good to displace. It’s well known that he was close to joining Arsenal before making his move to Manchester, but now it’s been revealed that he also could have been a Liverpool player.
Speaking to The Athletic former Liverpool assistant manager Phil Thompson said he’d been to Lisbon to watch the teenager play:
“He was being touted around everyone. Tony Henry, the former Man City midfielder, was working for (agent) Paul Stretford, who was tasked by Jorge Mendes to drum up interest in England,” Thompson said.
“They were desperate to get Ronaldo out of Sporting and invited me over for a game. I was told the fee was £4 million but they explained that it could be paid over the course of a four-year contract so essentially it was £1 million per year.
“I asked what kind of salary he would want and they said it was £1 million per year after tax. That was a lot for an 18-year-old kid but they said that was negotiable.”
Thompson revealed he returned to Merseyside to discuss the move with Gerard Houllier but before they had a chance to make a bid it had been announced that rivals United had a £12 million bid accepted.
Speaking about their reaction to the news Thompson added:
“Gerard asked me to phone Tony to find out what had gone on. Tony told me that when he’d got off the plane on the Monday he had got a call to say he was off the deal. It was down to Stretford and Mendes instead.
“It was astonishing that the fee trebled. He was clearly a big talent but no one could have predicted back then how great he was going to be.”
Added to the fact that Cristiano’s wages and the potential change to wage structure at the club, the Premier League leaders believed that they had two ‘special’ talents in Florent Sinama Pongolle and Anthony le Tallec.
That was a big mistake, as Cristiano went to become one of the best players in the history of the game, helping United to win several trophies both in England and overseas.