Ronaldo admits he was on verge of Arsenal move

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The Independent Online

Portugal winger Cristiano Ronaldo was poised to join Arsenal before Manchester United offered three times as much money, the Ballon d'Or winner said in an interview published today.

"I was within an inch of (joining Arsenal)," Ronaldo told France Football. "I have a lot of respect for (manager Arsene) Wenger, he is a very clever man."

Ronaldo, who inspired United to the Champions League and Premier League double this year, was awarded the Ballon d'Or on Tuesday after a poll of 96 international journalists organised by France Football. He joined United from Sporting Lisbon in 2003.

"I think I have gone down in history. And I am only 23," Ronaldo said.

"But I think I have to work even more. I never relax...I want to do as much next year and even more.

"Since I arrived at Manchester United, I have always improved year after year. I have always achieved something more season after season...I want more titles, more awards and another Ballon d'Or."

Ronaldo also denied he was a diver.

"You know Hercules? He was hefty and muscular but sometimes he fell," Ronaldo said.

Meanwhile, Sir Alex Ferguson feels Cristiano Ronaldo richly deserved to be awarded the Ballon D'Or.

"It is brilliant for Ronaldo to win the Ballon D'Or," said Ferguson.

"I will be going to see him receive his award on Sunday and it is well deserved.

"The percentage of votes he got made it an almost unanimous decision.

"It is good to know he wants to improve. I think he will improve."

Before he gets his hands on the trophy, Ronaldo will first hope to help United defeat Sunderland at Old Trafford tomorrow.

The Madeira-born star is available again after serving a one-match ban for his red card at Manchester City last weekend.

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