Barcelona turned down Ronaldo in favour of Al Ahli new boy
Former Barcelona president Joan Laporta has claimed the Nou Camp club rejected the chance to sign Cristiano Ronaldo shortly before he joined Manchester United.
Laporta says he was given first refusal on the winger, then of Sporting Lisbon, by agent Jorge Mendes but said no due to Barca having spent €39million (Dh190m) on Ronaldinho, Rafael Marquez, and new Al Ahli signing Ricardo Quaresma. Ronaldo then signed for United for €15m (Dh73m).
Laporta was in charge of Barcelona between 2003 and 2010 before making way for current incumbent Sandro Rosell.
Laporta said: “We worked with Jorge Mendes quite a lot back then and he offered us Ronaldo when he was still under contract with Sporting in 2003.
“We could have got Ronaldo for a lower price than Manchester United eventually paid for him. However, we had just signed Ronaldinho, Quaresma and Marquez, and we lacked the financial resources to make another signing.”
Laporta also declined the chance to bring Kaka in from AC Milan when the Brazilian was at the peak of his powers.
“[Milan president] Silvio Berlusconi proposed a player-exchange deal involving Kaka and Ronaldinho,” he added. “That was not an option for us, because Ronaldinho was a key player at the time. It started out as a bit of a joke, but Berlusconi quickly turned serious.”
Meanwhile, Cesc Fabregas has dubbed Thursday's Copa del Rey quarter final trip to Malaga as Barca’s “most important game of the season.”
The first leg was drawn 2-2 at the Nou Camp last week thanks to a late equaliser by Malaga’s Ignacio Camacho after Barca coach Tito Vilanova fielded a much-weakened team, but Fabregas insists the cup is a high priority.
He said: “We want to reach every final that we can and give ourselves a chance of winning everything. We’ll try to go on the attack with our style of play.”