LONDON – Arsenal’s departing boss Arsene Wenger revealed Thursday that Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo could have played together for the Gunners.
Wenger, who last weekend coached his last Arsenal match after 22 years, tried to sign both stars in 2003, but Ronaldo decided instead to play for Manchester United and Messi decided not to leave Barcelona.
“He (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 (assistant) coach. United played against Sporting Lisbon and Ronaldo was outstanding and they signed him,” the French coach told the Arsenal website.
Ronaldo ended up at Old Trafford for 12 million pounds ($16.1 million) and became the most expensive signing of a young player in the history of English soccer.
The star stayed for six seasons in Manchester before leaving in 2009 for Real Madrid, which paid 80 million pounds for him.
At the same time Arsenal was trying to sign Ronaldo, Wenger was interested in three Barcelona players: Lionel Messi and Cesc Fabregas, who wore the Gunners jersey between 2003-11, as well as Gerard Pique.
“I met Cesc’s parents and at the time we were interested in Messi and Pique as well. We tried for the three but of course it didn’t work out ... because of the agents,” the veteran coach revealed.