Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has said he was "very close" to signing Cristiano Ronaldo before he joined Manchester United in August 2003.
Wenger has established a superb record for spotting talent
Wenger believes the Portuguese winger Ronaldo signed for United due to the club's links with Sporting Lisbon.
Wenger said: "He was here much earlier - he could tell you that if he wants.
"Manchester United had a partnership with Sporting Lisbon when United assistant coach Carlos Queiroz moved and that made it very difficult."
Wenger added of Ronaldo: "I knew about him yes. We were very close."
But he refused to elaborate any further when questioned about Ronaldo's time with Arsenal.
"I don't want to create any story that isn't needed," the Frenchman told BBC football correspondent Jonathan Legard.
"One day I will tell you more about that story and you will be surprised. You will have to ask him how close it was."
Ronaldo has been in sensational form all season, scoring 27 goals as well as setting up countless others for the Premier League leaders.
Since joining Arsenal in 1996, Wenger has established an unparallelled reputation for identifying and buying Europe's finest young players.