Manchester United will remember it all to well, when Barcelona pipped them to the signing of the decade.
Back in the summer of 2003, Ronaldinho looked as though he was about to pen a deal that would see him leave Paris Saint-Germain to join Sir Alex Ferguson at Old Trafford.
But in the final stages the deal fell through and the Brazilian playmaker joined Barcelona. He would go on to establish himself as the best player on the planet, winning it all for the Catalan club, as well as a Ballon d’Or.
But, it may not have been the worst thing in the world that Ronaldinho left for Spain instead of Manchester. Because, as Ferguson himself highlighted in 2009, if United did sign Ronaldinho, they may not have brought Cristiano Ronaldo to the club that summer.
A teenaged Ronaldo came to United instead, and would leave the club in 2009 for Real Madrid as the best player on the planet and a bona fide club legend.
Here’s what Ferguson had to say about the saga:
“I thought we’d clinched the deal (for Ronaldinho), but when I flew to Paris to speak with him, the goalposts seemed to have moved somehow.
“His people complained that to me that it didn’t seem as though they were getting the same deal we’d previously agreed. The next thing I know, he was at Barcelona the following day.
“It was a big disappointment at the time, but we signed Cristiano Ronaldo that very same summer and perhaps we wouldn’t have ended up with Ronaldo had we got Ronaldinho.
“We probably would have kept tabs on Ronaldo, though, because we had a precontract agreement with Sporting.
“However, maybe we wouldn’t have accelerated the Ronaldo deal in the way we did.”
Although, United did sign Ronaldinho’s countryman Kleberson that summer. Fans would almost certainly have traded him off for the Barcelona-bound Ronaldinho. Imagine that front line…