Juventus missed out on Ronaldo because of failed swap deal, former director says

Former Juventus sporting director Gianni Di Marzio has claimed that the Bianconeri had a deal to sign Cristiano Ronaldo in 2002, a year before he joined Manchester United. The only thing that kept him from joining? Marcelo Salas didn’t want to go the other way.

Interest around Ronaldo was high before he moved to United, and while the story of his signing for the Red Devils has been told time and again, according to Di Marzio, it could’ve ended much differently had Salas been more amenable to a move.

“When I was working for Juventus, I called Turin and said he was going to be the best player in the world, obviously behind [Diego] Maradona,” Di Marzio told EFE on Monday, as reported by Marca.

“I negotiated and brought Cristiano to Turin in 2002 to sign for Juventus. But Salas did not accept the swap deal. For a few million euros, Salas did not want to go and he later ended up at River Plate. That is how Juventus lost Cristiano Ronaldo. [Ronaldo’s agent Jorge Mendes] knows this story very well.”

Marcelo Salas was an expensive signing, joining for approximately £8 million and the services of Darko Kovacevic. He never settled into Juventus’ team, and subsequently never endeared himself to supporters, making just a handful of appearances over his three-year stint with the team before eventually moving on to River Plate. Knowing he was likely the reason Juve missed out on CR7 probably isn’t going to do much to elevate his standing with Bianconeri supporters.