Gerard Houllier has revealed Liverpool once came close to signing Cristiano Ronaldo but were forced to abandon a move due to the club’s strict wage structure.
Liverpool were keen to sign Ronaldo in 2003 after watching the winger impress during his formative years at Sporting Lisbon.
“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.
“Then Manchester United played a friendly against Sporting Lisbon and all their boys said to Sir Alex Ferguson: ‘You have to sign him’. But I agreed with not breaking the wage structure. I thought it would cause problems in our dressing room.”
Ronaldo has since won four Ballon d’Or trophies and netted over 600 career goals, but Houllier thought Harry Kewell was the man for Liverpool and signed the Australian from Leeds in a cut-price £5m deal in 2003.
Houllier added: “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.
“After that, he never had the same confidence, the same appetite.”