‘Ronaldo turned down Barcelona before joining Real Madrid in 2009’

That’s according to journalist Graham Hunter, who says former Barcelona general manager Ferran Soriano was left red-faced after boasting to Real Madrid that they were going to sign the Portuguese.

After scoring 118 goals in 292 appearances for Manchester United, as well as winning three Premier League titles, the Champions League and a Ballon d’Or, Ronaldo sealed a then world-record £80m switch to the Bernabeu in 2009.

And if Ronaldo’s monumental success at Madrid wasn’t already a touchy subject for Barca, Hunter has revealed how they were turned down by the player before he joined their biggest rivals.

“When he was held up one year from joining Real Madrid, I think 10 years ago he joined having been due to join the previous season, Alex Ferguson said to him ‘you must stay,’” he told The Transfer Window podcast. “He did stay, but he set in place a mechanism to join the year later, which then went through.

“During that time Barcelona tried their hardest to say to Manchester United and to Cristiano Ronaldo ‘come to us instead’.

“Ferran Soriano went and boasted to [former Real president] Ramon Calderon ‘we will take Ronaldo without you being able to stop us. You think you’re getting him in May, well we’re gonna pay him more, we’re gonna persuade him to come to us.’

“Ronaldo said no. So it’s quite legitimate for people to try and make him, in this case Manchester United, and persuade somebody when the deal hasn’t been announced.”