Marc Roger’s autobiography suggests Arsenal tried to sign the Brazilian Ronaldo when he left Barcelona as he was unhappy at the time by the way Catalan club was treating him.
Back in 1997, the French agent met the Brazilian superstar who said Barcelona had not followed their contract promises. They gave him an apartment instead of a villa with a swimming pool, they gave him two cars that he did not like and there were problems with the flights ticket for his mother to come and visit from Brazil. He mentioned his release transfer fee was 150 M Francs about €23m – a huge fee at the time.
Marc Roger then invited Ronaldo’s agents, Reinaldo Pitta and Alexandre Martins, to Paris to treat them for a few days with first class flight tickets and hotel rooms at the five star George V hotel.
Then they travelled to London to meet Arsene Wenger.
The Arsenal manager was astonished to learn that Ronaldo was ready to leave Barcelona and sign for the Gunners. Unfortunately, his stratospheric wages were a huge problem for the club. They would have had to break the wage structure to afford the player and offer their highest ever salary.
Arsenal tried to offload part of the wages to Nike as they were the club’s kit provider as well as Ronaldo’s boot sponsor.
Unfortunately, the financial package was never finalised as Arsenal were waiting for a answer from Nike’s headquarters in Portland. The answer came too late and the deal did not happen.
In the end Inter Milan stepped in and signed the Brazilian player in the Summer 1997