Arsenal could have signed Cristiano Ronaldo as a teenager but missed out on the Portuguese due to a lack of money, according to former scout Damien Comolli.
The forward was famously snapped up by Manchester United after impressing playing against them for Sporting during a pre-season friendly back in August 2003.
However, Comolli says he could have brought Ronaldo to Arsenal years earlier when working as a European scout for Arsene Wenger only for a deal to fall through.
“The first time I saw Ronaldo, it was at the Montaigu tournament, he was 15. He played against Japan before and I thought: ‘Who the hell is this?’” Comolli told SFR Sport.
“At half-time, I called my contact in Portugal to which I said that I had seen a phenomenon. Since Thierry Henry, I’ve never seen that.
“He came twice to the training ground. Nobody knows that. He met Thierry [Henry], who was his idol.
“But when it came to making the transfer, there was no money.
“Months later, Manchester United made a partnership with Sporting, they played a friendly match in Lisbon. He slaughtered them and Sir Alex Ferguson said: ‘He must go to United’.”
Ronaldo went on to enjoy huge success at Old Trafford winning three Premier League titles and the Champions League before moving to Real Madrid where he has continued adding to his silverware collection.
Comolli’s comments are likely to frustrate Arsenal fans who have seen an ever-growing list of top stars fail to move to the Gunners due to financial reason over the last few seasons.