Former Arsenal co-owner and vice-chairman David Dein has revealed which player he regrets most about missing out.
The Gunners have come close to signing many world-class players over the years only to miss out for various reasons, but how true some of the reported cases are remains to be seen.
Notable names reportedly almost moving to Highbury and the Emirates over the past two decades include N’Golo Kante, Kylian Mbappe, Luis Suarez, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Gareth Bale, Yaya Toure, Ronaldinho and Lionel Messi.
But there is one name that stands out the most, not only given the quality of the player and how close Arsenal came to signing him, but also the fact that they have joined one of the club’s greatest rivals.
“I was asked by our chief scout if I would go with him to see a boy playing for Portugal U18 and he was only 16,” Dein, who was at Arsenal from 1983 to 2007, told Sky Sports .
“You can probably imagine who this young player was. It was Cristiano Ronaldo.
“The next day Manchester United came and blew us out of the water but these things happen.”
United signed Ronaldo from Sporting Lisbon in 2003 for £17million, then the most expensive fee for a teenager, after the striker played against the Red Devils in a pre-season friendly.
The rest, as the saying goes, is history. Ronaldo becomes one of the greatest footballers of all time, winning seven league titles, five Champions League titles, the European Championship and five Ballon d’Ors.
Legendary Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger agrees with Dein after previously speaking about the agony of missing out on the Portuguese superstar.
“The obvious player [that we missed out on] Ronaldo comes to mind,” Wenger said back in 2018 on Arsenal’s official website.
“He was here with his mother and we were very close. Then United came in and they had Carlos Queiroz at the time who was their manager. United played Sporting Lisbon and Ronaldo was outstanding and they signed him.
“You could imagine at the time what it would have been like to have Thierry Henry and Ronaldo together. That would certainly have changed the story of my stay here a bit.”
For more stories like this, visit our sports page.
Follow Metro Sport for the latest news
Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.