The ex-Gunners boss considers missing out on the Portuguese superstar to be one of his greatest disappointments, but there were many in north London
In the summer of 2003, Ronaldo had his obvious potential noted by teams across Europe. Arsenal formed part of the clamour for his signature, with an agreement reached with Sporting that would see the winger head to north London.
Wenger, who claims to having come close to pulling off a number of notable deals across his 22-year reign with the Gunners, was convinced that Ronaldo would be joining their ranks.
Asked by The Guardian to pick out his most painful recruitment regret, Wenger said: “Oof! I would say there is not one player, there are 50!
“On the other hand, maybe the closest [to that] was Cristiano Ronaldo, when he signed for Man United.
“We had an agreement with Sporting and Man United took Carlos Queiroz as assistant coach, and they just outbid us quickly and took Ronaldo, but we had an agreement basically. He had the shirt of Arsenal, I had lunch with him and his mother at the training ground!
“It’s one example but there were so many. The history of a big club is full of missed great players!”
Wenger has also revealed in the past that he came close to acquiring the likes Yaya you’re, Zlatan Ibrahimović Lionel Messi another slip in his net, with Arsenal exploring the option of landing the Argentine when prising Cesc Fabregas away from Barcelona in 2003.