Even though he is considered a Blancos legend, the former Spain international came close to crossing the Clasico divide in 2002
By Ben Hayward | Spanish Football Writer
He is a Real Madrid legend. Fernando Morientes picked up three Champions League medals during his time at the Santiago Bernabeu, as well as eight other titles in a successful spell as part of the great Galactico side. But at the height of his success in the capital, the Spain striker almost joined Barcelona.
Morientes’ move across the Clasico divide never materialised, but for a few hours on the evening of August 31, 2002, the player thought he would be packing his bags to head for Catalunya as part of the deal that took Ronaldo to Madrid from Inter.
Los Blancos and the Nerazzurri had been negotiating over the Brazil forward for weeks, but the Italians were keen to include Morientes as part of the deal, knowing they could sell him to Barca for a profit as the Catalans’ chief Joan Gaspart was willing to part with €24 million for the Spain striker.
|SEND YOUR QUESTIONS TO FERNANDO!
|Fernando Morientes will be tweeting his thoughts and opinions on Real Madrid’s Champions League group game against Galatasaray on Wednesday night.
Goal readers can send their own questions and queries to the 37-year-old, who picked up a hat-trick of Champions League winners’ medals during a glittering seven-year spell withLos Blancos.
Morientes will be tweeting for @Heineken in conjunction with Goal throughout Real’s tussle with the Turkish champions at the Santiago Bernabeu.
So don’t miss out on the opportunity to chat with one of the most decorated players in the history of the Champions League.
To get involved, simply send your tweets to @Heineken, using the #ShareTheSofa hashtag.
Coverage starts at 20:30 CET on Wednesday and will run until after the final whistle.
Morientes, who had travelled to Monaco with Real for the Uefa Super Cup clash against Feyenoord, was told by Madrid official Emilio Butragueno that he would be included in the deadline day deal to sign Ronaldo, while his agent informed him he would be moving straight to Barcelona. For a few hours, El Moro thought he would be wearing Barca blaugrana the following season under Louis van Gaal.
“I was sweating a lot that day,” the forward said last year. “I was in Monaco. Butragueno came and told me everything. And I thought: ‘If Madrid don’t want me then playing for Barca wouldn’t be bad …'”
Morientes grew up supporting the Catalan club, but all of his family are madridistas and he later changed allegiance, too. “I was a Barca fan as a kid,” he said. “But I realised my mistake!”
In the end, Barca halted negotiations with the player’s agent in what was seen by Madrid as a bid to sabotage their move for Ronaldo. Consequently, Inter settled on a straight cash deal instead and the Brazilian moved to the Bernabeu for a fee in the region of €46m.
“It was a very unpleasant experience for me,” Morientes added. “I wanted to stay at Madrid but for a few hours I didn’t know what was going on. I received a lot of support from my team-mates and, in the end, I stayed.”
The Spaniard scored 21 goals in 49 appearances in 2001-02, but struggled to make an impact following the arrival of Ronaldo and netted only six times in 27 games in 2002-03.
He eventually moved on loan to Monaco at the start of the next season and helped the Ligue 1 side topple his former club in the last eight of the Champions League, en route to the final.
Morientes (who scored 27 times in 47 games for Spain) then went back to Madrid in 2004-05, but was subsequently sold to Liverpool, before returning to La Liga in 2006 for three seasons and ending his career with a spell at Olympique de Marseille.
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