Ronaldo of course went on to sign for Manchester United in 2003, for a fee of £12million. But Wenger has revealed how the Portugese superstar was on the verge of a switch to North London, before Sir Alex Ferguson stepped in and persuaded the youngster to make the move to Old Trafford.
“He was very close to coming here,” Wenger said.
“He has a number nine shirt with Ronaldo on the back from Arsenal Football Club.
“What happened was that Carlos Queiroz went to Manchester United and they snapped him away from us because he knew him from Sporting.
“That’s what life is about. You give your best but sometimes you might find that people are stronger than you. That can happen as well.”
Ronaldo enjoyed tremendous success at Old Trafford, winning three Premier League titles and the Champions League before eventually joining Real Madrid for a world record fee of £80million at the time.
Wenger was speaking in a documentary about the 28-year-old – “Cristiano Ronaldo, Footballing Superstar” which was aired at 10pm last night on ITV4.