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Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi came close to £90m Wembley mega-match with the two superstars picking the teams

CRISTIANO RONALDO and Lionel Messi came ‘very close’ to playing each other in a £90million All-Stars supermatch at Wembley — where they would have hand-picked the global starting XIs.

Chelsea owner Todd Boehly created headlines last month when he also mooted the prospect of playing a glitzy, one-off Premier League North versus South tie.

Cristiano Ronaldo could have played a mega-match against rival Lionel Messi at Wembley
According to a new book about Ronaldo and Messi’s rivalry, the pair were in favour of a game where they picked their team-mates

However, it is a concept that has been long established in US sports such as Major League Soccer, baseball, basketball and the NFL.

But a new book — entitled ‘Messi vs Ronaldo’ — has unearthed details of a behind-the-scenes mega-money business idea that had the backing of the two greatest players of this generation.

The book also reveals Everton snubbed the chance to sign Ronaldo for just £2million and Ronaldo carried with him a note documenting all his honours, major landmarks, goal-scoring attributes and hat-tricks.

But it is the revelation about a Ronaldo vs Messi megamatch that could reignite Boehly’s dream.

It is understood that in 2014, City of London wheeler-dealer Robert Bonnier — a former dotcom multi-millionaire — made an approach to the respective players’ camps about his crazy project.

At the time Messi played for Barcelona, while Ronaldo was at Real Madrid and the pair regularly met in LaLiga El Clasicos.

But Bonnier was desperate to establish a biennial game in Europe that would pit Team Messi versus Team Ronaldo and would include the world’s leading stars.

A proposed budget just shy of £90million, which included match fees and bonuses, piqued the interest of the two parties.


Wembley was supposedly chosen as a neutral venue and they could wear kit that carried their own sponsors — Adidas for Messi, Nike for Ronaldo.

If it had gone ahead as initially planned for 2017, then the idea was to run it every two years — outside of the World Cups and European Championships — and make it look like a music festival rather than friendly.

The ambitious businessman wanted bands, laser shows and maybe even a boxing prize fight to finish it off.

Understandably, getting the agreement of powerbrokers Fifa and Uefa would not have come cheap.

And it is believed that Real Madrid president Florentino Perez wanted a staggering £21million for any of his stars to be involved.

According to the book, the tie eventually failed to happen due to the sheer number of invested parties and the politics involved in the corridors of power in world football.

David Piper was the TV producer hired by Bonnier to make it happen.
He said: “An All-Star game is the last great frontier for football. We were very close.”

Written by respected Wall Street Journal reporters Joshua Robinson and Jonathan Clegg, Messi vs Ronaldo looks at the rivalry that has defined this era of football.

It is claimed that Ronaldo’s transfer from Sporting Lisbon to Manchester United in August 2003 almost never happened because he was close to signing for other top European clubs.

Wembley Stadium was mooted as a potential venue for the supermatch

Arsenal had a teenage Ronaldo out to train in North London and the Gunners’ vice-chairman David Dein flew to Portugal to make an offer.

Newcastle United, then managed by Bobby Robson, were also sniffing around the young Portuguese winger.

And Everton had the chance to buy him for just £2MILLION in 2002 — but  stuck with emerging ace Wayne Rooney from their youth academy.

There was a deal in place with Juventus in a cash-plus-player arrangement but it collapsed because Chilean striker Marcelo Salas refused to move in the opposite direction.

The same thing happened when Sporting offered their star man to Lyon in France, however Tony Vairelles refused to move to Portugal.

Italian side Parma also offered significant sums of money — to both the club, the player  and his super-agent Jorge Mendes — but that never went further.

In his role as a Sporting fitness coach, Carlos Bruno was a key figure in Ronaldo’s  development during his teens.

Years later he went to visit his protege at the Real Madrid training ground in their first meeting for nearly two decades.

When they spoke afterwards in the car park, Bruno was surprised to learn that Ronaldo carried with him a folded piece of paper in his pocket that chronicled every major accomplishment of his career.

Ronaldo has had a storied career and reportedly carries around a piece of paper noting

Glancing down at his magnificent CV, Ronaldo told Bruno: “Not bad, eh?”

Messi vs Ronaldo: One Rivalry, Two GOATs, and the Era That Remade the World’s Game, is out on November 10 and published by Mariner Books.

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