Former Liverpool manager Gerard Houllier has lifted the lid on the time he had the chance to bring Cristiano Ronaldo to Anfield – and why he didn’t follow it up.
The Portuguese international joined Manchester United in a £12m deal in 2003, going on to win three Premier League titles and the Champions League before sealing a world-record move to Real Madrid in 2009.
Speaking to the Liverpool Echo, Houllier has defended the decision not to sign Ronaldo, citing his wage demands, potential dressing room unrest and the fact that they had Harry Kewell in the team already as the major factors in the former manager’s choice:
“I saw him in the Toulon Under 21 tournament and we went for him. But we had a wage scale and we weren’t paying the sort of salary he wanted.
“Then Manchester United played a friendly against Sporting Lisbon and all their boys said to Sir Alex Ferguson: ‘You have to sign him’.
“I agreed with not breaking the wage structure. I thought it would cause problems in our dressing room.
“Maybe we would have won the title with Ronaldo, but we had Harry Kewell, who was outstanding at the time and was very hungry but got a bad injury.
Liverpool fought off strong competition from a number of English and European clubs (including Man United, ironically) to sign Kewell in 2003, but the Australian endured an injury-plagued five years at the club. In all, he made 81 Premier League appearances before joining Galatasaray in 2008.
In this week’s episode of the Mixer Irish football podcast we reflect on Ireland’s fantastic result in Wales, discuss the future of Irish football with Joe Gamble and analyse the latest League of Ireland Premier Division action.