Former Arsenal scout Damien Comolli has claimed the Gunners were close to signing Cristiano Ronaldo months before he joined Manchester United but were unable to meet Sporting CP's asking price.
Comolli spotted Ronaldo at a tournament in France and the Portuguese twice visited Arsenal's training ground to get an impression of the north London side.
However, a move did not materialise as Arsenal fell short of Sporting CP's demands and Ronaldo joined United instead just months later.
"The first time I saw Ronaldo was as the Montaigu tournament. He was 15 years old," Comolli told SFR Sport 1.
"He was playing Japan and I immediately thought to myself 'what is this?'. I called my contact in Portugal at half-time and told him I'd seen a phenomenon. I had never seen anything like it since Thierry Henry.
"He twice visited Arsenal's training centre. Nobody even knows about that. He met Henry, who was his idol. And when the time had come to complete the transfer, there was no money.
"A few months later Manchester United partnered up with Sporting and played a friendly against them. Ronaldo destroyed them and Ferguson immediately acted."