Cristiano Ronaldo explains just how close he came to joining Arsenal before Man Utd


Cristiano Ronaldo very nearly joined Arsenal in 2003 (Picture: Getty Images)

Cristiano Ronaldo has confirmed that he was just ‘one step away’ from joining Arsenal before he moved to Manchester United in 2003.

The Portuguese superstar was signed by United from Sporting in ’03 for £12.24m after the two sides met in a pre-season friendly and the Red Devils were captivated by the teenager.

However, United were not the first team to show an interest in the forward, with Arsenal already having made an approach for his services.

Ronaldo confirmed in an ITV interview with Piers Morgan that he was extremely close to joining the Gunners: ‘Very close. One step. Seriously.

‘It didn’t happen, but Arsenal, I appreciate what they did for me, especially Arsene Wenger, but football you never know where you are going to play, life is like that.

‘But I appreciate Arsenal because it is a fantastic club.’

Ronaldo was handed an Arsenal shirt by Piers Morgan (Picture: ITV)

This is not the first time Ronaldo has spoken of Arsenal’s failed move for him, having also confirmed that he basically had the pick of any European giant before moving to Old Trafford.

‘There had been contacts with so many other teams, Valencia for example were one of them,’ the Juventus forward told Portuguese TV station TVI earlier this year.

‘I met with Arsene Wenger and was about to go to Arsenal. I talked to Barcelona, Real Madrid and Inter too but after the friendly against Manchester United, who were already interested, they became even more interested and they sped up negotiations and signed me.’

Ronaldo would go on to make 292 appearances for United, scoring 118 goals before moving to Real Madrid for a then world record fee of £80m.

Now 34-year-old and plying his trade in Italy with Juventus since leaving Madrid for Turin last year, he has scored 29 goals in 46 games for the Italian champions.

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