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David Gill opens up on Ronaldinho to Man Utd transfer saga and why he 'didn't get a good vibe'

Jack Kenmare

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David Gill opens up on Ronaldinho to Man Utd transfer saga and why he 'didn't get a good vibe'

David Gill, the former chief executive of Manchester United, has opened up on the much-talked-about transfer saga involving Ronaldinho, and why he "didn't get a good vibe" from negotiations.

Back in the summer of 2003, then-Paris Saint-Germain forward Ronaldinho was on the verge of joining United for a reported £19 million.

In fact, former midfielder Kleberson, who spent two years at Old Trafford between 2003 and 2005, would later reveal how close his Brazilian counterpart came to joining the Premier League club.

"Ronaldinho told me he was going to Manchester," Kleberson told ESPN. "He kept saying to me, 'Come to Manchester!'".

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But after weeks of intense rumours, Ronaldinho decided to join Catalan giants Barcelona in a deal that would bring plenty of questions from United fans, who were convinced they had snapped up one of the world's biggest talents.

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Now, more than two decades after the events took place, Manchester United's former chief executive David Gill has given a fascinating insight into one of football's most iconic 'almost' transfers.

Speaking to Rio Ferdinand on his VIBE with Five podcast, the 66-year-old began: "To me, we were never that close. We went over to Paris when he was there, we met with his brother Roberto Assis, who was his agent.

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"We discussed it... we being Peter [Kenyon] and I. We met them at Manchester Airport, we went through and did all the numbers. We nearly got an agreement on the wages and what we paid the agents.

"Peter went back to Old Trafford and I said I'd look after them."

Image credit: Getty
Image credit: Getty

Gill, who was heavily involved in transfers throughout his 16-year spell at Manchester United, would go on to admit that talks with Ronaldinho and his team were far from perfect.

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He added: "I just didn't get a good vibe. Barcelona were in there and I've done enough deals to know 'do they really want to come here' when you're buying something.

"I just felt if Barcelona hadn't have been there we'd have got him. But if Barcelona were there, they were clearly his first choice, a Brazilian going to Barcelona - with all due respect not withstanding the success of Manchester United, they were his first choice.

"If they hadn't had come up with the goods, we'd had all of the deal done. The numbers were done. I don't think it was anything we'd done wrong it was just that Barcelona had came in. We were close but no cigar."

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Ronaldinho has previously stated that he was "really close" to joining United in the summer of 2003. "I had that chance and I was really close but in the end, I decided to sign for Barcelona," he told SPORTbible.

Featured Image Credit: Rio Ferdinand Presents FIVE/YouTube - Getty Images

Topics: Ronaldinho, Manchester United, Transfers, Premier League, Barcelona

Jack Kenmare
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