The £12.75m fee which he eventually joined United for was not the issue but Houllier was unable to offer the then 18-year-old the wages he wanted to come to Anfield.
“I saw him in the Toulon Under-21 tournament and we went for him,” admitted Houllier.
“But we had a wage scale and we weren't paying the sort of salary he wanted.
“Then Manchester United played a friendly against Sporting Lisbon and all their boys said to Sir Alex Ferguson: ‘You have to sign him’.
“But I agreed with not breaking the wage structure. I thought it would cause problems in our dressing room.”
With Ronaldo’s wages not fitting into the Liverpool wage structure, Houllier instead opted for Harry Kewell in a £5m deal from Leeds.
“Maybe we would have won the title with Ronaldo, but we had Harry Kewell, who was outstanding at the time and was very hungry but got a bad injury,” he added.
“After that, he never had the same confidence, the same appetite.”
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