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Jan 22, 2013

Laporta: Barca could have had Ronaldo

Barcelona could have signed Cristiano Ronaldo in 2003, but the club could not afford him at the time, according to its former president Joan Laporta.

• Blog: Valdes jumps ship

Laporta told Spanish radio show Al Primer Toque on Monday night that he could have signed Ronaldo for less than the €15 million Manchester United paid in 2003, but the Catalan club had already spent its budget on other players.

"(Agent Jorge) Mendes offered him to us, for even cheaper than to Manchester United, due to some transfers we had done for him, including Deco," he said. "But at that moment we did not have the resources after signing Ronaldinho, (Rafael) Marquez and (Ricardo) Quaresma."

The lawyer, who was Barca president from 2003 to 2010 and is currently a member of the Catalan regional parliament, also said AC Milan owner Silvio Berlusconi tried to exchange Kaka for Ronaldinho, before the Serie A club sold the former to Real Madrid for €65 million in 2009.

"Berlusconi tried to swap him (Kaka) for Ronaldinho, but at that moment it was not an option for us as he was a key player," Laporta claimed. "It was an offer made during a directors meal. It was half in joke and half serious, but he wanted to see if we would be interested. It seemed a pity as it then looked like he was going to be a success at Madrid, but that has not happened, although he is an excellent player."

The decision of his friend Pep Guardiola to turn down more lucrative offers to take over at Bayern Munich next season was a "wise" one, Laporta said, and it was unlikely he would try and persuade his former Barcelona colleagues to join him in the Bundesliga.

"It is a wise decision, the most correct of all," he said. "I like that a person with as much integrity as Pep has told all the clubs with money that he prefers a serious project like Bayern. I am sure he will respect Barca, he has many options in Germany to bring through players and does not need to 'come fishing' here."

Laporta said it looked as if current Barcelona goalkeeper Victor Valdes was set on leaving the club, but if he were still in charge he would try and get him to stay, as he did when Valdes last renewed his contract in 2009.

"(Valdes) is a man with a lot of personality," Laporta said. "He is a restless character who wants to get to know other cultures. He is sincere and not trying to second guess anyone. I would try to persuade him to stay at Barca, but Victor will be the one who decides."

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