Cristiano Ronaldo names the 4 teams who wanted to sign him before Man Utd move

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Football News

As if proof was needed that Cristiano Ronaldo remains one of the top players in the game, the Portuguese star's lucrative new £500,000-per-week contract with Real Madrid, signed this week, should be enough.

However, the multi-time Ballon d'Or winner hasn't always been the biggest name in the sport and, like any other player, he started his professional career as a relative unknown.

That all changed when, aged just 18, Manchester United signed Ronaldo for £12.24 million from Sporting Lisbon back in 2003. According to Ronaldo, though, there were at least four clubs interested in his signature before the Red Devils made their move.

Speaking whilst on international duty with Portugal, the 31-year-old named four European powerhouses who he says had their eye on him during his very early days at Sporting.

"When I’d played a few games with Sporting, I awoke the interest of various European clubs," Ronaldo said, via Sport. "Such as Inter, Arsenal, Valencia and Barcelona."

Considering how Ronaldo's career has panned out - enjoying six successful years at Old Trafford followed by his trophy-laden spell in Madrid - the revelation will certainly raise a few eyebrows.

For one thing, Barcelona's interest would have set up the dream scenario of seeing the Portugal forward in the same starting XI as Lionel Messi. The rest of football may as well have taken the last 13 years off had the Catalan club beaten United to Ronaldo's signature.

And Arsenal fans will be at pains to hear the favourite for the 2016 Ballon d'Or admit that their club had the early march on Man United only for Sir Alex Ferguson to get the deal across the line.

What could have been

Indeed, Arsene Wenger himself admitted back in 2014 this year that one of his biggest regrets is not following through on his interest in Ronaldo back when he was at Sporting.

“My biggest regret? I was so close to signing Cristiano Ronaldo, and not only did I not get him, he signed for Manchester United. So that of course still hurts today,” the Arsenal boss said.

In mentioning Inter Milan and Valencia, too, there will plenty of football fans across the world wondering whether the pacey front man's career would have reached the same heights had he joined either club - both of whom have struggled to keep up with Europe's elite in recent years.

Fortunately for Real Madrid fans, they don't have to worry about what might have been.

Having seen Ronaldo score the decisive penalty to secure the 2016 Champions League for Los Blancos, they can now look forward to at least another five years watching him in their famous white jersey.

La Liga
Real Madrid
Cristiano Ronaldo
Lionel Messi
Manchester United

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