Manchester United preferred Ronaldinho to arrive at Old Trafford over Cristiano Ronaldo: Peter Kenyon


Peter Kenyon, the former Manchester United chief executive has disclosed how Sir Alex Ferguson’s half-time phone call persuaded the club to recruit Cristiano Ronaldo.  

The Red Devils were in pursuit for the most of the summer of 2003 after the PSG forward outshined every player in their World Cup triumph.

The newly elected FC Barcelona president at the time Joan Laporta stated – “I said we would lead Barca to the forefront of the footballing world, and for that to occur we had to sign one of these three players, David Beckham, Thierry Henry or Ronaldinho”

Henry remained with Arsenal, and Laporta then promised to bring Beckham to the club. But following his transfer to Real Madrid, Barcelona entered the running for Ronaldinho and outbid Manchester United for his signature in a €30 million deal.

Had Ronaldinho preferred to pursue United instead of Barca, the long-time Brazil International would have followed a very different route.

Kenyon on signing Ronaldinho:

Kenyon acknowledging that the team was able to shell out a substantial sum that far overshadowed the fair worth.

“We did try really hard for Ronaldinho and in the end, we offered what was a load of money, even by our standards,” – Kenyon said.

“Getting the player for the amount of money paid didn’t sit well at United.

“There was a decision that if he is right and we do want him we will pay, because we could.

“It crossed the line and on reflection.

“This is not about his (Ronaldinho) ability – it turned out to be a great decision.”

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This led to Manchester United signing Cristiano Ronaldo:

Sporting’s Cristiano Ronaldo (r) Chases a Unidentified Manchester United Player During a Friendly Match at the Inauguration of a New Sporting Stadium ‘Alvalade Xii’ 06 August 2003 the New Stadium was Built to Accomodate the Next Euro 2004 Championship Matches. Portugal Lisbon Soccer Sporting Vs Manchester United – Aug 2003

Since, United were unable to sign the World Cup winning Brazilian, the Reds signed Cristiano Ronaldo. This made him the first ever Portuguese to play for Manchester United. His transfer fee of £12.24 million made him, at the time, the most expensive teenager in English football history.

Many critiqued the move spending a huge amount on an unproven talent. However, after an impressive game against United in a friendly pre-season, Ferguson became persuaded of his abilities.

Kenyon was influential in persuading long-serving manager Alex Ferguson to sign Ronaldo despite Ferguson’s original intention to sign him on loan.

Kenyon on a call from Ferguson about Cristiano Ronaldo’s signing:

“I got a call at half-time saying, rather than leave Ronaldo here, can we take him home please?”

“So, the team left the next day and I stayed to do it.” – he added.

The negotiating abilities of Ferguson were still a key element. It had been during his tenure at the club with some of United ‘s greatest transfer transactions.

“That’s where Alex was absolutely amazing. He sold Manchester United better than anybody,” added Kenyon. “He never over-promised but he got people wanting to be there.” – former chief Kenyon added.

The move proved to be an undisputed achievement for Ferguson. Ronaldo enjoyed three premier league titles, the FA Cup and Champions League in the 2007-08 season at Old Trafford.

Later, Ronaldo joined Real Madrid for a world record transfer fee at the time, of £80 million achieving the reputation as one of the greatest players to ever step on the pitch.

Also read: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s motivates the Reds for the ‘FA Cup glory’


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