Former Liverpool assistant manager Phil Thompson has revealed how the Reds did not pursue a move for Cristiano Ronaldo in 2003 for fear of “anarchy” in the dressing room.
Ronaldo, then a teenager coming through the ranks at Sporting Lisbon, had been noticed by then-Liverpool manager Gerard Houllier at the Toulon Tournament and was planning a move for the youngster.
However, the Reds had recently snapped up French duo Florent Sinama Pongolle and Anthony Le Tallec, and the prospect of another teenager coming on board on much higher wages would have caused unrest among the players, according to Thompson.
In the end, Liverpool’s bitter rivals Manchester United snapped up Ronaldo, which left Houllier and his assistant aghast.
“We had just signed Florent Sinama Pongolle and Anthony Le Tallec, both on far less than Ronaldo’s aspirations,” Thompson told the Liverpool Echo.
“And we would have had anarchy if the other players had found out how much we were considering paying for an 18-year-old kid. We looked for a compromise.
“Ten days later I was sitting in a lounge at Anfield having some lunch and looking at the big TV screen. Up came the news United had signed Ronaldo from Lisbon for £12.2m. Gerard and myself nearly choked on our food!”
Following an impressive spell at Old Trafford, Ronaldo went on to join Real Madrid and is now widely considered one of the best footballers of all time.