Italian agent claims Rangers launched £20m move for Brazilian legend
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Italian agent claims Rangers launched £20m move for Brazilian legend

The former agent of Brazilian football legend Ronaldo has revealed just how close the striker came to joining Rangers in an “incredible” £20m swoop in 1997.

With Ronaldo unhappy at Barcelona the Gers and Walter Smith are said to have offered the legendary striker a deal which would see him only playing in the Champions League.

The former agent of Brazilian superstar Ronaldo has claimed that Rangers tried to sign his client in 1997. (Photo by Gianni Ferrari/Cover/Getty Images).

Naming the Gers alongside Lazio and fellow Italian giants Inter Milan – to whom Ronaldo would eventually move – Giovanni Branchini details the Rangers and Ronaldo story on a new documentary aired on Sky Italia and repeated in the Daily Record.

The mention of Rangers forms part of a conversation regarding the Brazilian World Cup Winner’s exit from the Camp Nou.

“There were several days of negotiation with the Barca lawyer and Vice President Gaspart. One night, my partner Carlo Pallavicino and I met with Ronaldo to talk about the renewal,” said Branchini.

“If Barca had presented us with a clean contract, we would have signed it.

“We had nothing against the renewal of Ronaldo with Barca, but we wanted to avoid image contracts and complicated situations.

“While the negotiations remained stalled, we observed the interest shown by Lazio, Inter and Glasgow Rangers.

“At one point, we shook hands with the Barca coaches, I even called Moratti to explain that we had reached an agreement with the club.

“However, Barca announced the agreement through a press conference, and what they said on television did not correspond to what we had talked about.

“I spoke with my partners and I said to them: ‘Gentlemen, we are leaving’. That press conference was an insult to our intelligence, there was no reason to expose Ronaldo to such humiliation.

“The offer from Glasgow Rangers was incredible. They told us he didn’t have to play on a Saturday in the Scottish League.

“They were desperate to win the Champions League and were going to allow him to play in the European matches only.

Walter Smith tried to sign Ronaldo during his time at Barcelona. Mandatory Credit: Ben Radford/Allsport UK

“But Inter had followed him from when he used to play in Brazil. Barcelona reneged on a new contract and Inter were the first club to meet the release clause so he went there.”

What a story that would’ve been had Rangers managed to pull the signing of Ronaldo off, the legendary ex-Real Madrid striker widely considered one of football’s greatest ever players.

The forward would go to suffer a brutal knee injury at Inter Milan but it didn’t stop him picking up the World Cup in 2002, winning the golden boot in the process with eight goals.

28 March 1998: Ronaldo of Inter Milan celebrates during the Serie A match between Milan and Inter Milan played at the “Giuseppe Meazza” in Milan.

The striker would also win the Balon d’Or that season – his second in a stunning footballing career which also seen him named FIFA Player of the Year three times.

Whilst Rangers never signed Ronaldo, there is another striker being linked to Ibrox who in relative terms would cost the Gers a small fortune to bring to Glasgow next season.