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Marcelo Salas was the reason Cristiano Ronaldo didn’t join Juventus in 2002

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Everyone knows the story about Cristiano Ronaldo tearing John O’Shea apart when Sporting played Man United, leading Sir Alex Ferguson to sign the youngster on the spot.

The lanky Portuguese winger moved to Manchester in the summer of 2003, settled in immediately and, well, you know the rest.

But had life worked out ever so differently Ronaldo would never have played United in that fateful game, as he’d already be a Juventus player.

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Former Juve sporting director told Marca how close he came to signing the youngster in 2002, only for Marcelo Salas to scupper the move.

Di Marzio was in town to watch another young talent, Ricardo Quaresma, who just so happened to be left out of the side that played Belenenses.

He said: “I called my club and told them I’d seen someone who would be the best player in the world, obviously after Maradona.

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“I negotiated and brought Cristiano over to Turin in 2002 to sign for Juve, but Salas didn’t accept the terms of the swap.

“For just a few million euros, Salas didn’t want to leave and so Juventus lost out on Cristiano Ronaldo.”

Salas, who played a bit-part role in Turin after joining from Lazio in 2001, stayed at the club until 2003, when he returned to River Plate.

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Don’t feel too sorry for Juventus though.

They might have missed out on Ronaldo, but they did pick up Gianluigi Buffon, Lilian Thuram and Pavel Nedved ahead of the 2001/2002 campaign.

Now that is some transfer window.


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