Former Barcelona president Joan Gaspart has revealed the bizarre circumstances behind Brazilian star Ronaldo’s decision to swap the Nou Camp for Inter Milan.
Despite stating his desire to remain in Catalonia, Ronaldo left the Spanish giants for a world-record fee of £19.5 million in 1997, with ex-Barcelona chief Gaspart one of those responsible for negotiating the deal.
And looking back on the transfer, Gaspart has revealed the curious circumstances surrounding the move, with Ronaldo agreeing to join the Serie A club while Barcelona directors were at a celebratory meal toasting his new contract.
Joan Gaspart has revealed the bizarre nature of Ronaldo’s (pictured) Barcelona exit in 1997
The Brazilian (pictured), who now owns Real Valladolid after retiring from the game, joined Inter Milan from Barcelona for a world-record fee
Gaspart (pictured) claims Ronaldo wanted to stay at the Nou Camp but was persuaded by his agents, who kept putting obstacles in the way of the Spanish giants during negotiations
‘Ronaldo wanted to stay at Barcelona, he was happy and his wish was to renew,’ Gaspart told Goal. ‘We had even typed out the contract in front of the player himself and his two agents.
‘It was three in the afternoon and we justifiably decided to go out to eat and celebrate Ronaldo’s renewal, and then return to the office and sign the agreement we had reached.’
‘We even toasted with cava to celebrate the agreement. That was a mistake because if we had not gone out to eat and had signed at the same time we reached the agreement, Ronaldo would have stayed at Barcelona.’
Gaspart also explained that the first time he became aware of a potential problem was when one of Ronaldo’s agents took a long call during the meeting.
Gaspart (pictured) was elected president of Barcelona in 2000, beating rival Lluis Bassat
Ronaldo was a star at Inter, scoring 59 goals in his time with the Serie A powerhouses
‘From the first moment we got to president (Josep) Nunez’s office, the agents began to put obstacles up, they told Ronaldo to go home and that they would call him to sign. I asked them if they did not want to sign,’ he added.
‘They insisted they did but what they wanted was to renegotiate almost the entire contract, increasing the financial terms. They were trying to destroy the talks.’
‘When we managed to renegotiate the five points they requested, they found a sixth part, which we also solved, and then a seventh,’ he stated.
The 74-year-old revealed that a ‘tearful’ Ronaldo eventually informed them that his ‘agents had received a better deal’ and that he would be joining Inter as a result.
He joined Barcelona’s fierce rivals Real Madrid in 2002 and also played for the likes of AC Milan before his retirement in 2011
Despite complaints to both the Italians and FIFA, the Brazilian eventually signed for Inter in a world-record deal.
The powerful striker went on to score 59 goals in just 98 games for Inter before moving to Barcelona’s fierce rivals Real Madrid in 2002.
Considered a legend of the game, he retired in 2011 as a two-time World Cup winner.