Cristiano Ronaldo has admitted to having met with then Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger before sealing a switch to Manchester United in the summer of 2003.The Portuguese was an exciting emerging talent at that stage, with Europe’s top clubs aware of the potential he was showing at Sporting.Barcelona and Real Madrid made their interest known, as did Serie A giants Inter, while meetings were held with the Gunners in north London. Article continues below Editors’ Picks Emery out of jail – for now – as brilliant Pepe papers over Arsenal’s cracks What is Manchester United’s ownership situation and how would Kevin Glazer’s sale of shares affect the club? Ox-rated! Dream night in Genk for Liverpool ace after injury nightmare Messi a man for all Champions League seasons – but will this really be Barcelona’s? In the end United got their man, with Sir Alex Ferguson moving to ensure that it would be the Red Devils who secured the signature of a much sought-after asset.That show of faith was richly rewarded, with Ronaldo taking the first steps on the road to global superstardom in England before moving on to Real in 2009. Based in the UK? Grab a Sky Sports Day Pass for just £8.99!Things could have been very different, though, had one of his many other suitors won the race for his services.Ronaldo told TVI on the transfer saga which shaped his future career: “There had been contacts with so many other teams, Valencia for example were one of them.“I met with Arsene Wenger and was about to go to Arsenal.“I talked to Barcelona, Real Madrid and Inter too but after the friendly against Manchester United, who were already interested, they became even more interested and they sped up negotiations and signed me.”Wenger has admitted in the past that he considers missing out on Ronaldo to be one of his biggest transfer regrets as a coach.The Frenchman, who left Arsenal in 2018 after 22 years with the Premier League club, told the Gunners’ official website: “The obvious player that comes to mind is Ronaldo.“He was here with his mother and we were very close. Then Man United came in and they had Carlos Queiroz at the time, who was their coach. United played against Sporting Lisbon and Ronaldo was outstanding and they signed him.“You could imagine at the time what it would have been like to have Thierry Henry and Ronaldo together. That would certainly have changed a little bit the history of my stay here as well.”Wenger added on how the Gunners walked away from discussions: “There is always something you could have done differently, but the problem of negotiations is to know when you give in and when you don’t give in.“Once we were at 4.5 million pounds, we were still in negotiations… so we were very close. But Man United went to 12 million pounds, which we could not afford at the time.”
More details have emerged about last week’s kidnapping and killing of a Canadian mining company executive in Burkina Faso.An official with the West African country’s Ministry of Security says the gunmen who kidnapped Kirk Woodman of Halifax, Nova Scotia appears to have stolen items like cell phones, computers and money. The theft implies the kidnapping may have been carried out by armed bandits, not terrorists.As there are no witnesses and currently no one claiming responsibility, it remains unclear what took place in the hours before Woodman’s body was found riddled with bullets.Woodman worked for Progress Minerals Inc., a Vancouver-based company. He was found dead last Wednesday in Oudalan province, in the northern Sahel region. He was kidnapped the night before by armed gunmen from a mining camp in Tiabongou.The investigation into his death is ongoing.A second Canadian from Quebec, Edith Blais, is still missing in Burkina Faso.