Confirmed: Liverpool had chance to sign Real Madrid superstar but signed Harry Kewell instead

Former Liverpool manager Gerard Houllier has revealed that the club’s wage structure was the reason behind their failure to land Cristiano Ronaldo.

The Frenchman, in charge at Anfield between 1998 and 2004, had his eye on the Portuguese winger in 2003 as he was becoming established at Sporting Lisbon.

However, Houllier believed that Ronaldo’s salary demands were too high and ended up signing Harry Kewell from Leeds United instead, while Ronaldo joined Premier League rivals Manchester United.

“I saw him in the Toulon Under-21 tournament and we went for him,” Houllier told the Liverpool Echo. “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’.

“But 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.”

Cristiano Ronaldo, easily regarded as one of the best players in football history, has since won four Ballon d’Or trophies and netted over 600 career goals, as well as winning Euro 2016 with Portugal.