Arsenal had their sights on Cristiano Ronaldo before he joined Manchester United, and a new book has revealed the surprising reason why the Gunners couldn’t go for him.
According to a report in the Daily Mirror, a new book called Arsene Wenger: The Inside Story of Arsenal Under Wenger has revealed it was a cash crisis that stopped the Gunners from securing the Portuguese superstar's signature.
This all took place during the time of Wenger’s Invincibles, when the club planned to move to the new Emirates Stadium.
Arsenal were apparently close to a "financial meltdown", and Wenger's players "faced not being paid after their record-breaking unbeaten season".
One bank allegedly pulled the plug on a loan for the new stadium and even building work had to be halted.
However, the club reportedly pulled off a last-minute property deal and sold nearby land before eventually securing funding for the Emirates in February 2004.
Arsenal were able to solve their financial crisis and have since developed into one of the richest clubs in the world, but the turmoil meant Wenger missed out on Ronaldo.
The Real Madrid star was reportedly already on the Gunners’ training ground before Sir Alex Ferguson beat Wenger to his signature.
"I'd met Jorge Mendes (Ronaldo’s agent) the night before to establish the position, to make sure we were on solid ground," Ferguson recalls.
"In fairness, he always looked out for the player's best interests and he told me Arsenal and Real Madrid were in for him. I got the boy down, I told his agent that I wanted him to come back with us."
Do you think Ronaldo would have had as successful a career had he gone to Arsenal instead of United? Have your say in the comments section below.