Cristiano Ronaldo became a football superstar beginning with Manchester United and he further exploded as the top marksman for Real Madrid. But the years spent by the Juventus striker with the two giant clubs would have been at Barcelona, according to former Barca president Joan Laporta.

In 2003, agents approached the then Barcelona chief for a proposal to sign a rising Sporting Lisbon forward. The player was identified as Ronaldo and it was understood that the teenager was offered to the Catalans at a discounted price but Laporta declined, and for a valid reason.

The former Barca executive, who is looking to return to his old post, recalled that the Spanish club was then committed to signing Ronaldinho and the Brazilian indeed saw his star shine at Camp Nou. It appeared that Laporta was made to choose between a rising star and an established one so he chose the latter.

Goal reported that to this day, the former Barca president is convinced he made the right decision. Ronaldinho did well with Barcelona capturing numerous titles for the La Liga giants and winning for himself the Ballon d'Or.

Notably, it was Ronaldinho who mentored the young Lionel Messi and the Argentine turned out as the club's biggest signing.

However, it is Ronaldo who is proving now as the investment that would have paid off a longer time for the Catalans. The Portuguese made an indelible mark in England. From 2003 to 2009, the superstar won the Premier League several times, added a Champions League trophy, and got his start on a string of Ballon d'Or wins.

When he moved to La Liga but with Real, Ronaldo continued his success both on the domestic and the European fronts. Los Blanco dominated football in the continent by capturing numerous La Liga crowns and most notably by securing four Champions League titles.

Incredibly, pocketed four Ballon awards while in Spain and he made the jump to Serie A, he continued to be one of the game's most prolific goalscorer, and the same remains true in the ongoing season.

Laporta insisted he did not regret passing up on Ronaldo, who consistently figures in the raging debate of who is the greatest in football. The 35-year-old's closest rival for the recognition is Messi and the football world is still undecided who deserves the honor most.

But Arsenal star Mesut Ozil has made his choice and unsurprisingly it was an easy pick for him - Ronaldo, who is Ozil's former teammate at the Bernabeu, The Mirror reported.

The German playmaker conceded that Messi is among the best ever when it comes to football in Spain. But he pointed out that it's clear that Ronaldo excels wherever he plays.

Ozil's rationale: "Messi has proven himself to be one of the best ever in Spain, but Ronaldo was always the best in every country he's played in."

To be fair, the attacking midfielder has a clearer perspective on Ronaldo as the two are known to be close buddies while playing for Real. And such a factor is absent from Ozil's assessment of Messi.