Maradona “cost twice as much as Real Madrid star Ronaldo”

Real Madrid made Cristiano Ronaldo the most expensive player on the planet when they signed him from Manchester United.

But the Napoli chief who brought Diego Maradona to Italy from Barcelona believes the Argentina legend cost “double what Ronaldo would cost today”.

Corrado Ferlaino brokered the deal that saw the unpredictable Maradona leave Catalonia for a then-world-record £5million.

Real paid £80million when they prised Ronaldo from Manchester United in 2009, but Ferlaino insists Maradona was the more expensive purchase if time-frames are taken into account.

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Maradona’s signing in 1984 sparked what would become the greatest period in the Argentine’s career and, as a result, a golden era in Napoli’s history.

With Maradona, the Serie A club won two league titles and a UEFA Cup, while the diminutive striker famously led Argentina to the World Cup in 1986.

Ferlaino claims he knew the controversial striker would become a legend in Naples, and that the deal the club put in place to sign Maradona would eclipse any move involving today’s superstars.

He told AS: “He cost double what Cristiano would cost today.

“The intellectuals criticised me – they said Napoli was a poor city and it was immoral. But it was my money, and I wanted to spend it that way.

“When I signed the contract in Barcelona, I went to a bar and ordered a whisky on the rocks.

“The waiter said to me: ‘Are you Italian? What a great deal we’re getting out of this with Maradona – he’s fat.’ I didn’t enjoy that drink at all.”