Premier League - Liverpool 'turned down Ronaldo'

Mon, 06 Dec 11:28:00 2010

Gerard Houllier has admitted that he turned down the chance to sign Cristiano Ronaldo when he was Liverpool manager back in 2003.

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The Frenchman, who will return to Anfield for the first time as an opposing manager with his Aston Villa side on Monday night, said that Ronaldo's wage demands and the fact that he already had Harry Kewell were behind his decision to not sign the Portuguese winger.

Ronaldo, then with Sporting Lisbon, instead signed for rivals Manchester United for 12.24 million and after six hugely successful seasons at Old Trafford, he moved to Real Madrid for a world record fee of 80m.

"I saw him (Ronaldo) in the Toulon U21 tournament and we went for him, but we had a wage scale and we weren't paying the sort of salary he wanted," Houllier is quoted as saying in the Daily Telegraph.

"Then Manchester United played a friendly against Sporting Lisbon and all their boys said to Sir Alex Ferguson, 'You have to sign him'. But I agreed with not breaking the wage structure. I thought it would cause problems in our dressing room.

"I know some of the signings were not as sharp as they could have been. 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. After that, he never had the same confidence, the same appetite."

A year after he rejected the chance to sign Ronaldo, Houllier - who won five trophies with the club in 2001 and the League Cup in 2003 - left Liverpool by mutual consent. He said he was hopeful of a good reaction from the Anfield crowd on his return.

"It will be interesting to see what the Liverpool crowd is like," he said.

"I trust them to be good. After all, I didn’t go afterwards to Everton or Manchester United."


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