Cristiano Ronaldo almost signed for Barcelona, says former president Joan Laporta

MADRID, SPAIN - NOVEMBER 19:  Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid celebrates after scoring Real's 3rd goal during the La Liga match between Club Atletico de M
Image: Cristiano Ronaldo nearly joined Barcelona in 2003, according to ex-president Joan Laporta

Former Barcelona president Joan Laporta has claimed the club almost signed Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo in 2003 before he joined Manchester United. 

Laporta was president of the club between 2003 and 2010 and claims he could have captured the Portugal star in his maiden year at the helm of the club. 

Sky Sports Black Friday sale

Sky Sports Black Friday sale

Upgrade to Sky Sports now and get 12 months half price!

"We had signed Ronaldinho, [Rafael] Marquez and [Ricardo] Quaresma," Laporta told Marca.

"We were in a process of reconstruction throughout the whole club. [Ronaldo] was at Sporting at the time, before Manchester United, and we were speaking with his agent who wanted to sell us Deco.

Candidate for presidency of FC Barcelona, Joan Laporta speaks during a press conference on his plans for the football team, in Barcelona on June 22, 2015.
Image: Laporta claims the club were offered Ronaldo for less than what Man United paid, but failed to follow it up

"We said that we couldn't because we weren't able to [spend that much at the time], so he told us he had another really good kid.

"It was Ronaldo. He had a deal with United for €19 million, but we were offered him for €17m."

The Catalan giants failed to follow up on the offer, signing Deco the following summer, and Ronaldo ultimately joined fierce La Liga rivals Real Madrid in 2009. 

Also See:

Cristiano Ronaldo takes on Nicky Butt in action for Sporting Lisbon against Manchester United in 2003
Image: Ronaldo instead left Sporting Lisbon to sign for United, before joining Real Madrid in 2009

Despite this, Laporta asserts that the best player in the game's history is not Ronaldo but rather a figure who emerged from the club's own ranks in Lionel Messi. 

"I think [Lionel Messi] is the best player in the history of football," he added ahead of this weekend's Clasico at Camp Nou.

"There are others with great quality, but Leo is above the rest. He has natural talent, goals, he's a leader... he has it all. And on top of that, he's humble with it."

Upgrade to Sky Sports now and get 12 months half price. Hurry, offer ends December 4!

Around Sky