Cristiano Ronaldo has confirmed that Arsenal had been ahead of Manchester United in the queue to sign him.
Ronaldo joined Manchester United in 2003 for a fee of £12.25m, but had attracted interest from other clubs.
In August 2003, Sporting defeated United 3–1 at the opening of the Estádio José Alvalade in Lisbon.
A young Ronaldo starred in that match and attracted the admiration of Alex Ferguson, and a deal was done.
In 2014, Arsene Wenger lamented his misfortune in missing out on Ronaldo, describing it has the biggest regret of his career.
“My biggest regret? I was so close to signing Cristiano Ronaldo, and not only did I not get him, he signed for Manchester United. So that of course still hurts today,” Wenger said.
That story has now been corroborated by Ronaldo for the first time in an interview with Marca, as relayed by Sport Witness.
“Yes, it was not expected that United would be my team,” Ronaldo said.
“Other clubs had asked for me, like Valencia, Arsenal or Inter.
“But then we played them [United] and everyone knows what happened.”