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Thompson reveals how Man United beat Liverpool to Ronaldo

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Phil Thompson has lifted the lid on how Liverpool were agonisingly pipped by Manchester United to the signing of Cristiano Ronaldo 17 years ago.

United signed a then teenage Ronaldo from Sporting Lisbon in a £12.2m deal back in 2003, with the forward going on to become an Old Trafford hero and win a plethora of silverware while establishing himself as one of the biggest sporting stars on the planet before eventually joining Real Madrid for £80m in 2009.

But it seems that the Portuguese icon came very close to a move to Anfield in a much cheaper deal before Sir Alex Ferguson swooped to gazump United’s key rivals.

“I can still remember Tony’s exact words,” former Reds assistant Thompson told The Athletic. “It was all very nice and relaxed. ‘It’s £4 million and it can be paid over the four years of his contract, so £1 million a year’.

“That seemed very reasonable. Then I asked about the salary and Tony told me it was £1 million a year, net.”

He added: “I will never forget what happened next.

“On the Tuesday morning, we were having lunch at the training ground and it came up on the yellow strap on Sky Sports, ‘Manchester United have signed Cristiano Ronaldo for £12.2 million’.

“Gerard and myself almost choked on our food. I can remember Gerard jumping up and saying, ‘What the hell has gone on there?’”

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