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Former Arsenal scout Damien Comolli has revealed in a recent interview that we tried to sign Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo when he was at Sporting Lisbon.
Comolli who had a special job of monitoring young players at that time has revealed he kept tabs on Ronaldo when he was a youngster.
He also revealed the player’s career could have taken a different path as we were seriously interested in signing him. He claimed the forward visited our training ground on two occasions but ended up joining our fierce rival Manchester United.
Comoli revealed we didn’t have enough finance to complete the move which meant the player staying at Sporting before he joined United months later.
“The first time I saw Ronaldo, it was at the Montaigu tournament, he was 15,” Comolli told French TV station SFR Sport .
“He played against Japan before and I thought: ‘Who the hell is this?’
“At half-time, I called my contact in Portugal to which I said that I had seen a phenomenon. Since Thierry Henry, I had never seen anyone like that.
“He came to the [Arsenal] training centre twice. Nobody knows that. He met Thierry, who was his idol. But when it came to making the transfer, there was no money.
“Some months later, Manchester United secured a partnership with Sporting and they played a friendly match in Lisbon. He slaughtered them and Sir Alex Ferguson said: ‘He must go to United’.”
This is not the first time we are hearing of how we missed out on a global star as a youngster. There have been reports in the past of how we missed out on Lionel Messi, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Eden Hazard amongst others in the early days of their career.
One can only wonder how big we would have grown as a club and brand if we had signed all these players.
Ronaldo has gone on to win almost every title and award there is in football and imagine how glorious it would have been if he had done that in an Arsenal shirt. However, we are also grateful for the players that have played for us, we have also seen some great players like Thierry Henry grace our turf.