Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is known for his frugal ways when it comes to transfer market dealings and the Frenchman has come out to reveal that he almost signed two of the game’s biggest names – World player of the year Cristiano Ronaldo and Didier Drogba.
Wenger says he spotted Ronaldo as a teenager, playing for Sporting Lisbon and had the chance to engineer a move to London but he let it pass and he terms it a big regret as the player would move to Manchester United in a £12m deal.
Ronaldo went on to win eight major trophies with Manchester United in six years, scoring 117 goals before moving to Real Madrid in an £80m deal as Arsenal struggled through a dry spell and Wenger says he is still hurt by the way it all turned out.
“My greatest regret in football as the Arsenal manager is the fact that I had this chance to sign Ronaldo and I was so close but I could not get him to Arsenal due to a number of issues. What pained me even more was the fact that he went on to join Manchester United. That still hurts today”, the Frenchman said.
Wenger always has an upper hand when contesting for French – bred players, and as it has emerged, he spotted Didier Drogba as an unknown youngster when playing for Le Mans in the French lower tier.
Drogba, born in Ivory Coast, moved to France when he was five years old and rose through the ranks to establish himself as one of the most lethal forwards in Europe and Africa and Wenger says it hurts that he passed the chance to sign him when he was relatively unknown and that he came to punish Arsenal so much in his first stint at Chelsea.
“I would have loved to sign Drogba and this is for two reasons: Firstly because I missed him when he played for Le Mans, not even in the top league. I saw that he was good but I missed him.
“Secondly, because he hurt us so much in big games and this is pain I would have stopped early enough”, he added.