The Reason Liverpool Rejected The Chance To Sign Cristiano Ronaldo For £4m In 2003 Looks Silly Now
Cristiano Ronaldo may have ended up at Liverpool back in 2003, if it wasn't for his wage demands and the fact that the Reds believed they had two youngsters they didn't want to displace.
It's well known that, before moving to Manchester United, Ronaldo had the chance to go to Arsenal but now it's been revealed that he also could have been a Liverpool player.
Speaking to the Athletic former Liverpool assistant manager Phil Thompson said he'd been to Lisbon to watch the teenager play, "He was being touted around everyone. Tony Henry, the former Man City midfielder, was working for (agent) Paul Stretford, who was tasked by Jorge Mendes to drum up interest in England," Thompson said.
"They were desperate to get Ronaldo out of Sporting and invited me over for a game. I was told the fee was £4 million but they explained that it could be paid over the course of a four-year contract so essentially it was £1 million per year.
"I asked what kind of salary he would want and they said it was £1 million per year after tax. That was a lot for an 18-year-old kid but they said that was negotiable."
Thompson explained he headed back to Anfield to discuss the move with Gerard Houllier but before they had a chance to make a bid it had been announced that rivals United had a £12 million bid accepted.
Speaking about their reaction to the news Thompson added, "Gerard asked me to phone Tony to find out what had gone on. Tony told me that when he'd got off the plane on the Monday he had got a call to say he was off the deal. It was down to Stretford and Mendes instead.
"It was astonishing that the fee trebled. He was clearly a big talent but no one could have predicted back then how great he was going to be."
The Athletic also reveal that, as well as the wages and potential change to wage structure at the club, the Premier League leaders believed that they had two 'special' talents in Florent Sinama Pongolle and Anthony le Tallec.
Houllier was also worried about the impact signing Ronaldo would have on the dressing room.
The report also mentions that the Merseyside team had the chance to sign Gareth Bale before the Welshman went to Spurs but Southampton asked for on loan Darren Potter to move permanently and money for the 16-year-old.