Arsene Wenger reveals Cristiano Ronaldo close to Arsenal move before Manchester United hijacked deal with unmatchable £12million bid

The former Gunners boss, who bowed out of the Emirates on Sunday, is famous for his ‘almost’ transfer dealings.

Wenger claims to have come close to signing stars from Zlatan Ibrahimovic and N’Golo Kante to Vincent Kompany and Lionel Messi.

But this latest one is sure to ruffle a few feathers with the Arsenal faithful.

Ronaldo was just a young lad playing for Sporting Lisbon at the time.

He ended up becoming a world-class star at Manchester United before cementing his place amongst the greats of the game at Real Madrid.

And Wenger’s new admission that he couldn’t match United’s £12m offer in 2003 surely won’t go down too well with Arsenal fans, who believe the majority of his signings since then have been far from successful.

Wenger said: “Ronaldo was here with his mother and we were very close. Then Man United came in and they had Carlos Queiroz at the time, who was their coach.

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“United played against Sporting Lisbon and Ronaldo was outstanding and they signed him.

“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.

“Once we were at £4.5m, we were still in negotiations. David [Dein] met with [Jorge] Mendes in Paris and he was representing Sporting, so we were very close.

“But then Man United went to £12m, which we could not afford at the time.

“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.”

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