Manchester United signed Cristiano Ronaldo for the second time this summer, but a second move to Old Trafford would not have happened if Liverpool had gotten what they wanted.
In fact, the Reds thought Ronaldo was on his way to Anfield in 2003, meaning a return to United was not possible 18 years later.
Liverpool thought they had completed a deal to sign future superstar Ronaldo for just £4m in 2003 only for coach Gerard Houllier to choke his dinner after seeing the Portuguese star had joined his old rival Manchester United instead.
Sir Alex Ferguson pounced on the Sporting CP star award from Lisbon ahead of the likes of Barcelona, Juventus and Arsenal, but had a closer competition home with the Reds, just 32 miles down the road, believing they had landed one of the hottest teens on the planet at a price that now seems Like a deal.
Former Ollier assistant Liverpool Captain Phil Thompson, had dinner with football agent Tony Henry in the capital of Portugal as he was looking forward to a deal and remembered the conversation – As he did on previous occasions As in his autobiography.
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Tell the athlete : “I still remember Tony’s exact words. It was all very nice and relaxing.
“It’s £4m and it can be paid over the four years of his contract, £1m a year.
“That seemed very reasonable. Then I asked about the salary and Tony told me it was £1 million a year.”
Although there are reservations for the 18 year old Ronaldo Salary demands Liverpool, whose boss Houllier went to see the player in the Toulon Championship, were still eager to secure a deal across the line because they already knew he was a great talent and thought they had an agreement in place to sign even though personal terms had not been finalised.
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So, to find out on TV that their top performer had beaten them so hard and talked about their show came as a terrible shock to the Anfield management team.
“Tuesday morning, we were having lunch at the training ground and he appeared on the yellow belt on Sky Sports, ‘Manchester United have signed Cristiano Ronaldo for £12.2m,'” Thompson said.
“Gerard and I are about to choke on our food. I can remember Gerrard jumping up and saying, ‘What the hell happened?'”.
A version of this story was first published in October 2020