Gerard Houllier has revealed that Liverpool could have beaten Manchester United to the signing of Real Madrid legend Cristiano Ronaldo.

Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid CF celebrates after scoring his team’s second goal during the La Liga match against Getafe.

Things could have been so much different for Liverpool and Cristiano Ronaldo with former manager Gerard Houllier revealing the Premier League club could have signed the Real Madrid legend from Sporting Lisbon in 2003.

The Reds decided to make a move for a then 18-year-old Ronaldo but their wage structure stopped them from being able to offer the teenager the money he wanted and Manchester United instead swooped in.

Gerard Houllier, ex Liverpool manager, looks on from the stands prior to the Premier League match between Liverpool and Crystal Palace at Anfield.

“I saw him in the Toulon Under-21 tournament and we went for him,” Houllier told the Liverpool Echo.

“But we had a wage scale and we weren’t paying the sort of salary he wanted.”

It turns out that the £5m signing of Harry Kewell from Leeds United also played a part in the Merseysiders deciding against Ronaldo.

“Maybe we would have won the title with Ronaldo, but we had Harry Kewell, who was outstanding at the time and was very hungry but got a bad injury,” Houllier continued.

Club legend Phil Thompson, who was assistant at the time, also admitted that two other fringe players who made very little impact at Anfield also contributed to them bypassing the Portugal international.

Wes Brown of Manchester United tangles with Harry Kewell of Liverpool.

“We had just signed Florent Sinama Pongolle and Anthony Le Tallec, both on far less than Ronaldo’s aspirations,” Thompson added.

“And we would have had anarchy if the other players had found out how much we were considering paying for an 18-year-old kid.

“We looked for a compromise. Ten days later I was sitting in a lounge at Anfield having some lunch and looking at the big TV screen.

“Up came the news United had signed Ronaldo from Lisbon for £12.2m. Gerard and myself nearly choked on our food!”

Ronaldo would go onto score 118 goals in 291 appearances for their great rivals the Red Devils during his six years at the club, helping them to win three league titles and the Champions League.

In 2009 the forward made a then world record £80m switch to Madrid and is now their all-time record scorer with 412 strikes in 402 matches.

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