Peter Kenyon has explained why ‘it turned out to be a great decision’ not to sign Ronaldinho during his time as Manchester United chief executive.
Manchester United were interested in a deal to sign Ronaldinho from Paris Saint-Germain after sanctioning the sale of David Beckham, the Brazilian viewed as the marquee name to replace the former England captain in the summer of 2003.
The two sides held talks before Ronaldinho instead headed to Barcelona, where he would establish himself as the best player in world football, inspiring the Catalan side to Champions League success and winning the Ballon d’Or alongside back-to-back FIFA World Player of the Year awards.
Despite his success, Kenyon believes it was the right decision for the Red Devils to pull out of the deal, their withdrawal from talks leading to the capture of a certain Cristiano Ronaldo from Sporting Lisbon.
“We did try really hard for Ronaldinho and in the end, we offered what was a load of money, even by our standards,” Kenyon told the Telegraph.
📆 OTD in 2003, Barcelona signed Ronaldinho 🇧🇷
– 207 matches
– 94 goals
– 71 assists
– 5 trophies
– 1 Ballon d'Or
The man who put smiles on faces and bums on seats 🤩pic.twitter.com/D6l019hCyn
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) July 19, 2020
“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.”
A teenage Ronaldo had been on the club’s radar but their initial plan was to sign the starlet before loaning him back to Sporting, only for a now-infamous performance from the winger in a pre-season friendly against United convincing Sir Alex Ferguson the player was ready for the Premier League.
“I got a call at half-time saying, ‘Rather than leave him [Ronaldo] here, can we take him home please?’” Kenyon said. “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.”
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