Liverpool’s phone call to sign Cristiano Ronaldo after secret scouting mission

 

Back when Gerard Houllier was at the Liverpool helm, with Phil Thompson as his number two, the Reds were strong contenders to sign future five-time Ballon d’Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo will always be the one that got away for some connected to Liverpool.

Back when Gerard Houllier was at the helm on Merseyside, with Phil Thompson as his number two, the Reds were strong contenders to sign the future five-time Ballon d’Or winner from his first club, Sporting Lisbon.

According to Thompson, the youngster was being offered to a number of clubs by his agent at the time, Paul Stretford, including Manchester United and Newcastle, and was valued at a measly £4million. Liverpool were interested in snapping up the wonderkid and the Reds assistant flew out to Portugal to conduct a scouting mission.

Thompson even sat down for dinner with Tony Henry, who worked with Stretford, in Portugal to thrash out the finer details.

Recalling the transfer saga, Thompson told Paddy Power: “There were a few players we missed out on when I was working with Gerard Houllier at Liverpool. There was one who was not, maybe, a big name at all but he did alright in life and in football. His name was… I think… Ah yes, Cristiano Ronaldo was his name!

“We actually went and had a look at him because he was being offered to a lot of clubs by his agent Paul Stretford, and we were being offered him as well. There was Manchester United, I remember being linked, Newcastle as well, and people were wanting him.

 

“I went to see the last game of the season over there [in Portugal] and we chatted. That was on the Sunday, on the Monday I arrived back in Liverpool, went into training, we were sitting there, and I said to Gerard Houllier, ‘This boy’s a player, he’s great!’ He’d been offered to everybody for £4m. He wanted £1m over the four years of his contract and it would have quite easily been done.”

 

Liverpool were seemingly convinced they had got the transfer for Ronaldo over the line, only to learn that Man United had beaten them to the punch when watching the news.

Miffed by the situation, Houllier ordered Thompson to pick up the phone and find out what had transpired and to see whether Liverpool could resurrect a deal.

 

Thompson continued: “Next thing, it comes up on the screen on the strap at the bottom of Sky Sports News, ‘Cristiano Ronaldo signs for United – £12.2m’.

 

“Gerard Houllier said, ‘What the heck’s gone on there, Phil? I thought it was £4m? I thought it was up for debate!’ He said, ‘Get on to the agent and find out why!’ I went over there with a guy called Tony Henry who worked with Paul Stretford and I rang him and he said, ‘Phil, when I got off the plane I got a phone call and got told ‘You’re off the deal’.’

“You can make up your own minds what happened there but that was close, but he’s done alright for himself, hasn’t he?”

Thompson has previously spoken out about Liverpool missing out on Ronaldo, telling The Athletic that he and Houllier “nearly choked” on their food when they saw United had won transfer the race.

 

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