Wenger re­veals how and when Arse­nal missed out on sign­ing su­per­stars Ronaldo and Messi

The National - News - - SPORT - Press As­so­ci­a­tion

Cris­tiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi could have ended up play­ing to­gether at Arse­nal had things worked out dif­fer­ently.

Arsene Wenger, whose 22year man­age­rial reign at the club came to a close at the end of the sea­son, has re­vealed how he tried to sign both su­per­stars for the Gun­ners. In­stead Ronaldo went to Manch­ester United be­fore go­ing on to Real Madrid, while Wenger was un­able to prise Messi from Barcelona.

“The ob­vi­ous player [Arse­nal missed out on] that comes to mind is Ronaldo,” the French­man told Arse­nal.com.

“He 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. 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 £4.5 mil­lion, we were still in ne­go­ti­a­tions. David [Dein, then vice chair­man] met with [agent Jorge] Men­des in Paris and he was rep­re­sent­ing Sport­ing, so we were very close. But Man United went to £12m, which we could not af­ford at the time.

“I met Cesc’s [Fabre­gas] par­ents and at the time we were in­ter­ested in Messi and [Ger­ard] Pique as well.

“We tried for the three but of course it didn’t work out ... be­cause of the agents.

“With Messi, Barcelona didn’t want to lose him of course and they made [the of­fer] that was needed to keep the player at the club.”

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