By ESPN staff
Arsene Wenger has claimed that Cristiano Ronaldo came so close to joining Arsenal that he was even given his own squad number with the club.
Ronaldo, as an 18-year-old playing for Sporting Lisbon, eventually went on to sign for Manchester United, but in a documentary about the Portuguese attacker to be aired on ITV4 in the UK on Tuesday night, Wenger revealed just how close he came to signing for the Gunners.
"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."
Wenger also spoke about the differences between Barcelona’s Lionel Messi and Ronaldo, two players who are often talked about as the best in the world and said that the prospect of him linking up with Gareth Bale is “very exciting”.
"He [Ronaldo] is a complete athlete with total efficiency and Messi is an artist who does things nobody else can do," Wenger said.
"Bale still has a way to go if you compare what Ronaldo has done and what Bale has done. Bale has still a way to make it but the vision of having the two together is very exciting."