Wenger names former Man Utd favourite as his biggest transfer regret

Jose Verdugo
May 17, 2018

"The obvious player [that we missed out on] that comes to mind is [Cristiano] Ronaldo", Wenger told the club's official website. "United played against Sporting Lisbon and Ronaldo was outstanding and they signed him", Wenger said.

Wenger also recounted his attempt to sign Lionel Messi at the same time as Cesc Fabregas joined the club from Barcelona's academy.

The Portugal star, then a teenager, was close to joining the Gunners way back in the early 2000s, but the deal broke down and he went on to star, of course, for Manchester United before smashing all records known to man at Real Madrid.

"He was here with his mother and we were very close", Wenger said. "David met with (Ronaldo's agent Jorge) Mendes in Paris and he was representing Sporting, so we were very close, but Man United went to £12 million, which we could not afford at the time".

Wenger continued: "There is always something you could have done differently, but the problem of negotiations is to know when you give in and when you don't give in".

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"You could imagine at the time what it would have been like to have Thierry Henry and Ronaldo together". "That would certainly have changed a little bit the history of my stay here as well". The Gunners were involved in the race to acquire the Portugese galactico from Sporting CP in 2003, when he was just 18-years-old, but weren't willing to match the amount that Manchester United shelled out (reportedly £12 million) to get one of the greatest players of all time.

'Once we were at 4.5 million pounds, we were still in negotiations.so we were very close.

The five-time Ballon d'Or victor was chased by the Gunners in 2003 along with Gerard Pique and Cesc Fabregas, as the North London club sourced Europe for the hottest prospects. "I met Cesc [Fàbregas's] parents and at the time we were interested in Messi and [Gerard] Piqué as well". We tried for the three but of course it didn't work out, but we got a gem there in Cesc and he is an exceptional player. A brain for football.

'[It didn't work out with Messi and Pique] because of the agents.

"I don't really know if Messi was interested..."

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