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EL CLÁSICO

Cristiano: Barcelona could have got star for 17m, says Laporta

The ex-Barça president has again discussed Los Azulgranas' opportunity to snap up Cristiano Ronaldo from Sporting CP in summer 2003.
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Cristiano: Barcelona could have got star for 17m, says Laporta
Miquel Benitez WireImage

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Ahead of El Clásico on Saturday, former Barcelona president Joan Laporta has looked back on the Catalans' chance to buy Real Madrid ace Cristiano Ronaldo while he was still at first club Sporting CP.

Laporta has previously spoken of Barça's opportunity to take the Portuguese forward to the Camp Nou in the summer of 2003, following the 54-year-old's election as Blaugrana chief that June.

Cristiano during his days as a Sporting CP player.

And on Thursday, Laporta offered further details on the discussions that took place with Cristiano's representative, Jorge Mendes, before the starlet, then 18, finally joined Premier League side Manchester United.

"Cristiano's agent offered him to us for two million cheaper"

"When we [the new administration] arrived, we signed Ronaldinho, [Rafael] Márquez and [Ricardo] Quaresma," explained Laporta, who was Barça president until 2010 and later failed with a re-election bid in 2015.

"We were in a process of reconstruction," he said. "Cristiano was at Sporting CP and he was close to signing for United. The player's agent, who was handling Márquez and Quaresma [...] said, 'I've got another really good player who's called Cristiano Ronaldo.'

Since signing for Real Madrid in 2009, Cristiano has become the club's highest ever goalscorer.

"We told him we knew about him and he offered him to us for two million [euros] cheaper than to United, who ended up paying 19 million."

Ronaldo signed by Real Madrid in 2009

Cristiano spent six years at Old Trafford, before moving to Barça's arch rivals Real for 96 million euros in 2009, in what at the time was a world-record deal.