Manchester United nearly missed out on signing Cristiano Ronaldo back in 2003, according to ex-Juventus sporting director Luciano Moggi.
Moggi revealed the Italian giants had an agreement in place with Sporting Lisbon to swap then-Juventus striker Marcelo Salas for Ronaldo before United had even made a bid.
But the deal broke down after Salas opted out at the last minute, allowing United to swoop in late to seal a big-money move for the Portuguese starlet.
Moggi told Sports Sphera, as reported by French newspaper Le 10 Sport: "We had an agreement with his club, and Marcelo Salas had to go play [for Sporting]. It was an exchange and he even went to Portugal.
"But he finally backed out and preferred to join River Plater [instead]. We did not have the money to buy Ronaldo and we were forced to break our agreement.
"Manchester United then came in with a very high bid [for Ronaldo]."
United boss Sir Alex Ferguson paid £12.25m for Ronaldo after the then-18-year-old winger impressed in a friendly against the Red Devils.
And Ronaldo went on to become a superstar goal machine at Old Trafford, winning the 2008 Ballon d'Or award before sealing a £80m switch to Real Madrid.
And the Portugal captain was linked with a return to United for much of the past summer, although that speculation has recently subsided after Ronaldo signed a new Real Madrid contract keeping him at the club until summer 2018.
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