What might have been

Everyone knows that United had almost secured Ronaldinho’s services
from PSG. Exactly why did he move to Barca? Here’s the inside story.
Barcelona had just elected Jan Laporta as it’s new president and he
had a man named Sandro Rosell on his board. Rosell had been Nike’s man
in Brazil had made many important contacts there including Ronaldinho
and his brother, Asis.

The following excerpt from Jethro Soutar’s biography of Ronaldinho
illustrates how the transfer played out:

“The plot thickened when Ronaldinho was spotted in Madrid, but it
turned out that he was only making an advert for Pepsi. In fact,
Madrid’s interest cooled and Ronaldinho’s future suddenly boiled down
to the choices of two: Barca or Man United

Negotiations hotted up. PSG’s directors lodged Rossell and Kenyon in
neighbouring hotels in Lyon and walked back and forth between the two,
getting one to outbid the other, each oblivious to what was going on
behind the scenes.

In this way, Ronaldnho’s transfer price was upped to €30mil
(£20mil). Rosell had to drop out at €27mil (£18.3) but Kenyon met the
asking price – plus €3million (£2mil) in add-ons – and the deal was
done. Manchester United would send official confirmation as soon as
Peter Kenyon had returned to Old Trafford.

However, when the fax arrived a few days later, it was for €28
million (£19 million) rather than the €30 million (£20million)
agreed upon. Kenyon had got wind of the fact that Barca would not go
beyond €27 million (£18.3million). Francis Graille, the PSG
president, felt insulted and replied with a fax telling the Manchester
club that they had broken their side of the bargain and the deal was

Old Trafford replied that 30mil was fine, but it was too late:
Graille had called Rosell and told him Barca could have Ronaldinho for
€27 million (£18.3 million). It had become a matter of principle and,
while Rosell had acted honourably throughout, Kenyon, it was felt, had
not. It was one more reason for PSG to favour Barca. Besides, the
bidding war had done it’s job: before the whole soap opera began, the
first bid from Barca had been for €16 million (£10.8 million).
Manchester United had started lower, though this was viewed in Paris
as a further example of the condescending attitude emanating from
Lancashire: Barca’s offers were at least respectable right from the

…..As the Man United team and entourage boarded a plane for their
pre-season trip to the United States, they believed the deal was in
the bag. By the time they landed, Ronaldinho had signed for Barcelona.
Alex Ferguson was furious and his relationship with the chief
executive would never recover: Kenyon left the club two months later,
accepting a lucrative offer from Chelsea. “

Peter Kenyon
…and the rest as they say is history. How good would he have been
with United? Sadly, that is something we can only speculate about.
Writing Credits:  Sujay Kulkarni, First Year BA student at Fergusson College, Pune. Football fan and passionate Manchester United supporter. We encourage you to comment – he would appreciate feedback.