MANCHESTER UNITED almost managed to get Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi to link-up… for Barcelona.
Portuguese superstar Ronaldo shattered football's transfer record in 2009 when he left Old Trafford to join Real Madrid for £80million.
Los Blancos had already splashed out on Karim Benzema, Xabi Alonso and Ballon d'Or winner Kaka in response to Pep Guardiola's all-conquering debut season as Nou Camp chief the year before.
But they were almost denied the jewel in returning president's Florentino Perez's masterplan if Sir Alex Ferguson had got his way.
The legendary Scot was desperate to avoid losing Ronaldo to Real once he'd accepted that the former Sporting Lisbon winger was set to leave.
Fergie had even said back in 2008 that he wouldn't sell Madrid a 'virus' let alone his best player.
And according to Spanish newspaper AS, the United boss realised at the time that Barcelona were the only other club who could afford Ronaldo.
Fergie apparently contacted the Catalans to encourage a bid but the Portugal captain had already set his mind on a move to the Bernabeu.
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Guardiola's most notable signing that summer involved an infamous swap deal with Inter Milan involving Samuel Eto'o and Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
But the acquisition of Ronaldo would have not only ushered in an era of pure dominance for Barcelona, but also have cancelled out his famed rivalry with Messi.
Whether Manchester City chief Pep could have managed to get the two to play together is up for debate, as he boasted an embarrassment of attacking riches while in charge of Barca.
While Arsenal legend Thierry Henry flourished for Barca on the left wing, Ronaldo could have occupied the opposite flank to leave Messi in the hole behind Ibra.
Yaya Toure and Sergio Busquets may have had to share a spot on the substitutes bench, with Spanish duo Xavi and Iniesta holding down the two spots in the middle.
Messi was asked by Mundo Deportivo last year whether he would pass to Ronaldo if the two were on the same team.
The Argentine joked: "I guess so, in the end, yes."
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