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11th Jun 2018

Ronaldinho was genuinely convinced he was joining Manchester United in 2003

Kleberson only signed for the Red Devils because of Ronaldinho

What a signing this would have been for Manchester United.

United famously came within a whisker of bringing Brazilian legend Ronaldinho to Old Trafford 15 years ago but the enigmatic attacking midfielder opted to join Barcelona instead.

Ronaldinho helped Barca claim back-to-back La Liga titles, as well as a Champions League trophy, but it could have been so different as the player was convinced that he was set to join Sir Alex Ferguson’s squad in the summer of 2003.

Ronaldinho’s then-Brazil teammate Kleberson has revealed that the only reason he agreed to move to United was due to the fact that he was told that his international compatriot would be following suit.

“Ronaldinho told me he was going to Manchester,” Kleberson told ESPN.

“He kept saying to me, ‘Come to Manchester!’ I wanted to go, but I was reluctant because I didn’t speak English and United didn’t have any Portuguese speakers.

“Ronaldinho persuaded me and I went to Manchester. But he didn’t.”

Kleberson failed to back up the hype which followed his performance in the 2002 World Cup after arriving at Old Trafford and he was eventually shipped out to Besiktas two years later.

But he could well have fared better for the Red Devils if he had the familiar face of Ronaldinho in the dressing room.

Ronaldinho has previously revealed that he was just two days away from becoming a United player.

“It almost happened with United,” Ronaldinho told Four Four Two earlier this year. “It was a matter of 48 hours, but Sandro Rosell had told me way before I got the offer: ‘If I become Barca president, will you come?’ I said yes.

“It was only a matter of details with United when Rosell called to say he was going to win the elections there.

“And I had promised to him that I’d play for Barca. It was a quick negotiation. I told the English I had chosen Barca.”