Back in 2003, Cristiano Ronaldo was one of Europe’s hottest young players, showing that he had the ability to turn a game on it’s head at boyhood club Sporting Lisbon. He would show this in a friendly against Manchester United, constantly running at the defence with devastating effect.
Sir Alex Ferguson would decide that he needed to buy the 18 year-old and the deal would be confirmed that same summer. Ronaldo would eventually go on to score 84 goals for United and become arguably the best player on the planet. However, in that same summer, after United had decided to move for Ronaldo, his club would offer him to a variety of other clubs as a means of generating competition for him and driving up his transfer fee.
One club in specific would be offered the Portuguese winger’s services, Barcelona. The Spanish giants would be offered Ronaldo for a lower fee than United, but Barcelona would say no due to the fact they had already spent heavily on players such as Ricardo Quaresma, Rafael Marquez and Ronaldinho. So what would the Spanish giants have done had they decided to stretch their budgets and buy Cristiano Ronaldo ahead of Sir Alex Ferguson and Manchester United?
As mentioned, Barcelona had already brought in two exemplary players in the same positions as Cristiano Ronaldo, in Quaresma and Ronaldinho. This competition for places could have stunted the progression of Ronaldo, but there was another young creative player that managed to succeed to the same level as Ronaldo did, a young Argentinian called Lionel Messi. If Messi could succeed, so could have Ronaldo.
The development of Messi and Ronaldo, had they succeeded to the same level as they have in reality, Barcelona could have been dominant in more competitions. With the eventual leadership of Pep Guardiola, a change in philosophy might have altered Ronaldo’s thinking and that he may have felt that he needed to move to leave the shadow of Lionel Messi, a player favoured by Guardiola. Cristiano Ronaldo would most likely never have joined Real Madrid due to the level of competition between the Spanish rivals. Ultimately, a move to Barcelona would have most likely turned the Catalonian side into a European powerhouse for an extended period.
Featured Image created by: Charlie Pumfrey