Former United chief lifts lid on Ronaldo, Ronaldinho deals
Former Man United chief executive Peter Kenyon has discussed the club’s high-profile transfer negotiations in the summer of 2003.
In one of the most transformative transfer windows in recent memory, Man United sold David Beckham to Real Madrid and signed a teenage Cristiano Ronaldo from Sporting Lisbon, having failed to bring in Ronaldinho from PSG.
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Ronaldo was an alternative to Barcelona-bound Ronaldinho which, at the time, proved unpopular with supporters.
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Kenyon was blamed for his part in the talks but has told the Daily Telegraph that Man United chose to step away due to the finances involved.
“We did try really hard for Ronaldinho,” he said, “and in the end we offered what was a load of money even by our standards and there came a point…
“Getting the player just 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 – and this is not about his ability – it turned out to be a great decision.”
United instead turned to Portuguese winger Ronaldo, who would become one the greatest players in history after spending six years at Old Trafford.
The initial plan was to sign the player and send him back on loan to Sporting for a season, but his performance against United in a pre-season friendly in August 2003 changed the mind of Sir Alex Ferguson.
“I got a call at half-time saying, ‘Rather than leave him here, can we take him home please?’” Kenyon added.
“So the team left the next day and I stayed to do it. That’s where Alex was absolutely amazing. He sold Manchester United better than anybody. He never over-promised but he got people wanting to be there.”