Cristiano Ronaldo came extremely close to joining Arsenal before he signed for Manchester United as a teenager, former scout Damien Comolli has revealed...
The Portuguese superstar has gone on to prove himself as one of the best players to ever grace the game but his career could have been so different if Arsenal had enough money in the bank to bring him to the club back in 2000.
Speaking to French TV Station, SFR Sport 1, former Gunners scout Comolli said: "The first time I saw Ronaldo was as the Montaigu tournament. He was 15 years old.
"He was playing Japan and I immediately thought to myself 'what is this?'. I called my contact in Portugal at half-time and told him I'd seen a phenomenon. I had never seen anything like it since Thierry Henry.
"He twice visited Arsenal's training centre. Nobody even knows about that. He met Henry, who was his idol. And when the time had come to complete the transfer, there was no money.
"A few months later Manchester United partnered up with Sporting and played a friendly against them. Ronaldo destroyed them and Ferguson immediately acted."
Comolli spent seven seasons as a scout at Arsenal before joining North London rivals Spurs as Director of Football. He is credited with the discovery of signings such as Gael Clichy, Emmanuel Eboue and Kolo Toure while at Arsenal, but had Ronaldo signed, things could have be so different.