Ronaldinho has revealed that it was only the successful presidential bid at Barcelona for Sandro Rosell that stopped him from joining Manchester United and moving to the Nou Camp instead in 2003.
The Catalan giants had attempted to secure the services of David Beckham but turned their attentions to the Brazilian, a World Cup winner the year before, after the former joined Real Madrid instead.
Man United came close to securing Ronaldinho’s services but he went to Spain instead and quickly established his place among the greatest players of all time.
Speaking to FourFourTwo, Ronaldinho revealed that it was only his friendship with Rosell, who launched a successful presidential bid with Joan Laporta in 2003, that meant he made his name at the Nou Camp and not Old Trafford.
“It almost happened. It was a matter of 48 hours but Sandro Rosell had told me way before I got the offer: ‘If I become Barca president, will you come?’ I said yes,” he said.
“It was only a matter of details with United when Rosell called to say he was going to win the elections there. And I had promised to him that I’d play for Barca. It was a quick negotiation.
“I told the English I had chosen Barca. It was the right choice. Brazilians have always loved Barca. We have a history there. Off the pitch it is like nowhere else in Europe, so we are always happy playing there. I miss Barcelona a lot.”
How majestic it could have been. There are plenty of players I wish I could have seen with my own eyes from the Old Trafford terraces but never did – Brazilian Ronaldo, Luis Figo, Zinedine Zidane, Pavel Nedved, Gianluigi Buffon – yet none of them compare to Ronaldinho. He was more than footballing royalty; he was jogo bonito personified.
Handed a roaming role in a ruthless Sir Alex Ferguson team, he would have no doubt established himself as a club legend, those snake-like hips and dancing feet breaking ankles left right and centre, the sheer swagger and execution rubbing off on teammates. Remember that goal he scored against Chelsea where he somehow made time stop and hit it perfectly from a standing position? Imagine stuff like that happening every week – away to Aston Villa or something. It would have been perfect.
Then again, losing out on him meant the arrival of Cristiano Ronaldo. So, you know, swings and roundabouts I guess.