Former Manchester United CEO, David Gill, has claimed that Manchester United were never really that close to signing the legendary Ronaldinho in 2003.
Gill was speaking on Rio Ferdinand’s VIBE with FIVE podcast and when asked about the move for the Brazilian star he claimed, “to me, we were never that close. You could assess it, because I was involved”.
It is part of United folklore that United were inches away from signing the Brazil international before he ultimately signed for Barcelona.
Many fans of the Red Devils console themselves with the fact that even if they missed out on the opportunity to see Ronaldinho’s samba skills in the Premier League, the club ended up signing Cristiano Ronaldo later in that summer.
Gill continued the story by claiming, “we went over to Paris and met with his brother Roberto Assis, who was his agent”.
“We discussed it, then Peter [Kenyon] and I met them at Manchester Airport. We went through and did all the numbers. . .and Peter went back to Old Trafford [while] I looked after them and took them to their flight etc., and I just didn’t get a good vibe”.
Nonetheless, the former executive did let slip that a deal could have been done if it hadn’t been for Barcelona’s interest in the player.
“Barcelona were in there, and I’d done enough deals to know when you’re buying someone, ‘You really want to come here, don’t you?’”.
“I just felt if Barcelona hadn’t have been there, we’d have got him. But Barcelona were clearly his first choice, you know … we had the deal done, the numbers were done, so I don’t think it was anything we did wrong. It was just Barcelona came along”.
All sides miss out on top players, but the inclusion of Ronaldinho in a team with Ryan Giggs, Roy Keane, Paul Scholes and Ruud van Nistelrooy to name a few would have been a mouth-watering proposition.
Speaking on the incident last month, the former Brazilian international stated, “it almost happened with United. It was a matter of 48 hours, but Rosell had told me way before I got the offer: ‘If I become Barca president, will you come?’ I said yes”.
The Ballon d’Or winner went on to claim, “it was only a matter of details with United when Rosell called to say he was going to win the election there. And I had promised to him that ‘I’d play for Barca”.