Back in 2009, Manchester United knew Cristiano Ronaldo wanted to leave. Real Madrid was the player’s preferred destination but the Red Devils themselves instead wanted him to join Barcelona. That didn’t happen, robbing fans of the mouthwatering prospect of seeing the Portugal international line up alongside Lionel Messi in the side.
Ronaldo cost Real Madrid a massive £80million when he left Manchester United for the Bernabeu in 2009, becoming the world’s most-expensive player in the process.
It came somewhat out of the blue – particularly given the public stance on Sir Alex Ferguson.
The hard-nosed Scot was livid at Real in December 2008, blasting them for pursuing Ronaldo so publicly and insisting he wouldn’t ‘sell that mob a virus’.
Months later, Ronaldo was gone.
United wanted to offload their disgruntled talisman to Barcelona instead but Barca weren’t interested and, in the end, he joined Real.
Express Sport will now take a look at how the La Liga titans would have looked had they been able to bring Ronaldo to the Nou Camp and paired him up top with Messi.
Goalkeeper and defence
Barcelona had Victor Valdes between the sticks in 2009, with the Spain international playing at the peak of his powers.
He was particularly impressive in the Champions League final that year, keeping United – and Ronaldo – at bay with some fine early saves.
Dani Alves was the right-back, shining after arriving from Sevilla the previous year.
In the heart of defence was Gerard Pique and Carles Puyol, who would go on to help Spain win the World Cup the following year.
And Eric Abidal was their regular left-back.
staying in the side which, let’s face it, is still pretty good.
Messi would then have been able to play in the No 10 role behind a striker.
Speaking of which, let’s get to the good stuff…
Zlatan Ibrahimovic would lead the line, signing for Barcelona from Serie A giants Inter Milan in 2009.
Messi would be behind the Swede.
And the Argentine could then be flanked with Ronaldo and Thierry Henry either side of him.
While Ronaldo would shine as a left winger for Real Madrid, he could have been deployed on the right instead – where he impressed so much for United.
And that would have allowed Pep Guardiola, manager of Barcelona at the time, to play Henry on the left.