The forward was at Sporting Lisbon when the North London club were keen on securing a deal for the talented player in 2003. However, it was Sir Alex Ferguson, who managed to win the race for Ronaldo’s signature as he joined Manchester United the same year.
“My biggest regret, I was so close, to signing Cristiano Ronaldo, and not only did I not get him he signed for Manchester United, so that of course still hurts today,” Wenger said.
Wenger has a strong reason to regret this as Ronaldo enjoyed incredible success with the 20-times English champions. He also helped United to win their third European trophy in the history of their club during the 2007-08 season.
The Portuguese international went on to become one of the legends at United, before leaving Old Trafford to join Real Madrid in the summer of 2009. During his time in England, Ronaldo won three Premier League titles, Champions League, Club World Cup and FA Cup.
During the 30-year-old’s debut season at Old Trafford, Arsenal went on to win the league without a defeat. However, after that, the Emirates club were able to add one FA Cup and One Community Shield to their trophy cabinet till Ronaldo left in 2009.
Arsenal had just three trophies in six years from 2003 to 2009 and they saw them take a dip in their form. At the same time, Chelsea were taken over by Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich and they became a new face of the Premier League for a short while.
However, United bounced back and regained their dominance in English football in Ronaldo’s last three years at the club. He helped the Red Devils win three consecutive league titles, while Arsenal were struggling to challenge United and Chelsea for the title.
The only thing Wenger and Arsenal could see was Ronaldo shine for United, while the Gunners struggled to win silverware since 2005. They recently ended their nine-year long trophy drought by winning the FA Cup earlier in May.