'Ronaldo would have joined AC Milan' - Ownership issues prevented deal, says Mirabelli

The Rossoneri's former sporting director claims the Portuguese was on the brink of signing before those in charge at the time blocked a big-money move

Cristiano Ronaldo would be an AC Milan player if the incumbent owners had been in charge earlier in the close-season, according to former sporting director Massimiliano Mirabelli.

Five-time Ballon d'Or winner Ronaldo ended an illustrious nine-year stay at Real Madrid when he completed a €112 million (£100m/$127m) switch to reigning Serie A champions Juventus last July.

However, Mirabelli claims the Portugal superstar was ready to complete a move to San Siro until Li Yonghong's ill-fated regime blocked the deal prior to  hedge fund Elliott Management assuming control of the club .

"It was something we talked about with Jorge Mendes," Mirabelli, who was sacked shortly after the takeover, told Sportitalia .

"We knew there could be problems with Real [and Ronaldo]. We did everything, but then the Chinese owners blocked the deal because it was not sustainable.

"With the current owners CR7 would have been a Milan player."

Li completed his €740m (£659m/$841m) purchase of Milan in April 2017 and sacked head coach Vincenzo Montella seven months later.

Mirabelli felt it was the right decision to keep Montella on for the start of the 2017-18 season and revealed discussions were held with Antonio Conte prior to the appointment of Gennaro Gattuso.

"We arrived in April [2017] and finished a complicated season. Montella had done a good job. In my opinion, he deserved another chance to lead Milan again. In hindsight it is easy to say we were wrong, but at that point he deserved to stay," he said.

Article continues below

"I was proud to have made this choice [appointing Gattuso] because of his professionalism, his seriousness and the love he and his staff put into their work.

"The Chinese owners did not agree because they thought from the outside it would look like a backward step, but I explained that for me Rino was the coach of the future. He has worked in Greece, Serie C and B and for me this is a positive.

"We listened to [Conte], we talked directly. It was a chat that didn't result in anything."