Arsenal news: Why Cristiano Ronaldo did not sign for the Gunners, according to Damien Comolli

The north London club supposedly made contact with the winger months before he joined top-flight rivals Manchester United

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The Independent Football

Arsenal supposedly missed the opportunity to sign Cristiano Ronaldo in 2003 because they lacked the funds to make the transfer, according to former Gunners scout Damien Comolli.

As the scout revealed, the winger visited north London on two separate occasions as the Gunners contemplated making a move for the former Sporting Lisbon star.

But any deal failed to materialise due to a lack of money and Ronaldo eventually went on to join rivals Manchester United in a £12.2m deal.

“The first time I saw Ronaldo, it was at the Montaigu tournament, he was 15. He played against Japan before and I thought: Who the hell is this?’’ Comolli told SFR Sport.

“At half-time, I called my contact in Portugal to which I said that I had seen a phenomenon.

“Since Thierry Henry, I’ve never seen that.

“He came twice to the training ground. Nobody knows that. He met Thierry [Henry], who was his idol.

“But when it came to making the transfer, there was no money.

“Months later, Manchester United made a partnership with Sporting, they played a friendly match in Lisbon. He slaughtered them and Sir Alex Ferguson said: ‘He must go to United’.”

While United went on to enjoy both domestic and European glory after Ronaldo joined, Arsenal slipped into decline as they struggled to emulate the success of the Invincibles.

The club has a habit of missing out on notable signings. Didier Drogba, N'Golo Kante and Angel di Maria were all identified as targets during their youth but the club failed to put pen to paper to bring them to London.