Arsene Wenger has revealed how Arsenal came close to signing Cristiano Ronaldo before he joined Man Utd.
Gunners boss came close to signing United ace
Arsene Wenger has revealed how Arsenal came close to signing Cristiano Ronaldo before the superstar winger joined Manchester United.
The Portugal international has been in stunning form this season, netting 27 times as United lead the race for the Premier League crown, ahead of the Gunners on goal difference.
Wenger, who is renowned for identifying the leading young players from across the globe, was keen to sign Ronaldo from Sporting Lisbon before he joined United in August 2003.
"I knew about him, yes. We were very close," Wenger said.
"Manchester United had a partnership with Sporting Lisbon when [assistant coach] Carlos Queiroz came in - that made the difference.
"One day I will tell you more about that story and you will be surprised.
"You will have to ask him how close it was."
Wenger added: "He was here much earlier - he could tell you that if he wants."
The Arsenal manager admits Ronaldo would get his vote for Footballer of the Year, based purely on the last 12 months up to now.
"I did not expect Ronaldo to score as many as he did because he plays on the wing," said Wenger.
"Someone asked me what is the difference between Ronaldo and Lionel Messi? It is the goals. Messi is more of a dribbler in a very short space, but Ronaldo is good in the air, good on free-kicks, right foot, left foot. He has developed very well.
"Another quality Ronaldo has is he is healthy. He does not miss games. He has missed less games than [Wayne] Rooney and Messi in the last two years. He can take the kicks."