Former Manchester United executive explains why they couldn’t sign Ronaldinho

David Gill explained why the Brazilian couldn't play at Old Trafford
Martín O'Donnell
2024-02-10 10:00:34

Former chief executive of Manchester United David Gill confirmed what Rio Ferdinand said days earlier: that Ronaldinho Gaúcho could have showcased his talent at Old Trafford. It turns out that the English club held talks with the player’s representatives to sign him in 2003 until Barcelona stepped in.

Gill remembered this situation during an appearance on the Vibe with Five podcast: “For me, we were never close (to signing Ronaldinho). We went to Paris when he was there and met with his brother, Assis, who was his agent. We received them at Manchester airport, went through all the numbers, almost reached an agreement on salaries and commissions.”


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United pulled out from battle for Dinho when Barcelona got involved

Although the Red Devils approached the player, the feeling from the former Manchester executive was that Ronaldinho’s real desire was to play at Camp Nou.

“I simply didn’t have a good feeling. Barcelona was (in the mix), and I’ve done enough negotiations to know when players really want to play here. I realized that if it weren’t for Barcelona, we would have signed him, but they were clearly the priority. A Brazilian going to Barcelona… With all due respect to United, they were the first choice,” Gill said.

“The numbers were already set. I don’t think we did anything wrong. It just so happened that Barcelona showed up.”

Ronaldinho left PSG to join Barcelona in 2003, and from then on, he became even more prominent on the world stage, winning the Ballon d’Or in 2005 and the Champions League the following year.