Barca were offered Ronaldo

CAF Champions League

Laporta was elected to the post ahead of the 2003/04 season and immediately went about rebuilding the Barca team, while bringing in Frank Rijkaard as their new manager.

The Spanish politician oversaw the signings of Ronaldinho, Ricardo Quaresma and Rafael Marquez, while Deco was also a target for the Catalan giants, although they couldn't afford him at the time.

Deco's agent, Jorge Mendes, then offered them Ronaldo, who was about to make his exit from Sporting CP - eventually ending up at Manchester United for €2 million more than what the Blaugrana could have landed him for.

"We had signed Ronaldinho, [Rafael] Marquez and [Ricardo] Quaresma," Laporta said as reported by Marca.

"We were in a process of reconstruction throughout the whole club. [Ronaldo] was at Sporting at the time, before Manchester United, and we were speaking with his agent who wanted to sell us Deco.

"We said that we couldn't because we weren't able to [spend that much at the time], so he told us he had another really good kid.

"It was Ronaldo. He had a deal with United for €19 million, but we were offered him for €17m."

But the 54-year-old does not regret missing out on the Portugal international, who has led arch-rivals Los Blancos to two UEFA Champions League titles since joining from United in 2009 - as Lionel Messi has returned the club to their former glories.

"I think [Lionel Messi] is the best player in the history of football," he declared ahead of Saturday's Clasico in Catalonia.

"There are others with great quality, but Leo is above the rest. He has natural talent, goals, he's a leader... he has it all. And on top of that, he's humble with it."