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Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi are sworn rivals, destined to divide fans in their fight to be considered football’s greatest of all time forever.

But it could have been so different, with Barcelona REJECTING the chance to sign Ronaldo and pair him with Messi for just £15million in 2003.

That summer, the Portuguese star was on the brink of leaving Sporting Lisbon after a rapid rise to prominence.

Of course, Ronaldo ultimately joined Manchester United and shot to superstardom before moving to Real Madrid six years later.

But now, Barcelona presidential candidate Joan Laporta has told Iniestazo: “We were about to sign Ronaldinho and Rafa Marquez.

“Marquez’s people proposed Cristiano Ronaldo to us. He was at Sporting at the time.

“One of his agents said that they had a player who they had sold to [Manchester] United for €19m, but they’d sell him to us for €17m.

“But we had already invested in Ronaldinho at the time. Cristiano played more out wide than in the centre. We thought we were covered, so we rejected him. I don’t regret it.”

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