It’s the biggest ‘What If?’ in soccer: what if Cristiano Ronaldo played for Barcelona instead of for their bitter enemies, Real Madrid? That fantasy almost came true, according to Joan Laporta, who said Barca came so close to signing Ronaldo in 2003!
“We were in a process of reconstruction throughout the whole club,” Joan, 54, the former Barcelona president said ahead of El Clasico, per ESPN FC. With Cristiano, 31, set to take on his bitter nemesis, Lionel Messi, 29, on Dec. 3, Joan spoke how they almost became teammates!
“[Cristiano] was at Sporting [CP] at the time, before [transferring to] Manchester United,” Joan said,” and we were speaking with his agent who wanted to sell us Deco. We said that we couldn’t because we weren’t able [to spend that much money for Deco], so he told us he had another really good kid.” That kid would become the two-time FIFA Ballon d’Or winner, a man considered the greatest soccer player of all time.
So what went wrong? What kept Ronaldo out Barca’s trademark blue, red and yellow kit? Money. “He had a deal with United for €19 million, but we were offered him for €17 million.” Barcelona didn’t follow up for the offer and the rest was history. After a sting with Manchester United, Ronaldo signed with Real Madrid in 2009. Deco, 39, as it turned out, would join Barcelona in 2004.
While it’s hard to say whether or not Cristiano would stay with Barcelona, had he signed in 2006, it’s still amazing to think how very, very close he came to playing on the same team as Messi. In Joan’s eyes, however, he has no regrets, as he thinks Barca’s current star blows Ronaldo out of the water
“I think [Lionel] is the best player in the history of football,” the former Barcelona player said. “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.”
The world will see how humble he is when Barcelona hosts Real Madrid at Camp Nou for the latest El Clasico. A billion people expected to tune in to see the clash between these squads and with Real ahead of Barca in La Liga, this installment of the series promises to be an all-time great.
Do you wish Barcelona signed Cristiano Ronaldo when they had a chance, HollywoodLifers? Or are you happy that he went to Real Madrid instead?