New writer, Guido Nunes joins The Football Express and takes a fine tooth comb through Ronaldinho’s move to Flamengo from European giants A.C. Milan. Will the partying be put on hold in hope of achieving a place in the Brazilian National team? Will it all end in tears?
After one of the most turbulent and speculated upon transfers in the recent history of Brazilian football, Ronaldinho will join Flamengo in 2011. Leaving Italian club A.C. Milan and signing four year deal with the club from Rio de Janeiro. His aspiration will be a return to the national team in the hope of playing at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
Ronaldinho left Gremio in 2001 for Paris Saint German, in France, spending 2 years at the club. But it was at Barcelona where the player reached the peak of his career, named two-time FIFA world footballer of the year and winning the Champions League in 2005-06. His next move was to A.C. Milan in 2008 but was never able to hit the peaks he reached in Spain.
Ronaldinho’s transfer has been the main focus in the Brazilian sports press over the last two weeks. Every single day a new episode unfolded with speculations, twists and turns surrounding the destiny of the 30-year-old.
Negotiations over the player started in mid-July when rumours from Milanello suggested Ronaldinho would leave, and he decided it might be time to return to the Brazilian football. Initially three clubs showed interest in signing him for the 2011 campaign; Gremio, Flamengo, Palmeiras.
However, the protagonist of this soap opera wasn’t Ronaldinho, but his brother and agent, Assis. Assis did his best to spoil negotiations between two of the other clubs that had been interested – Gremio and Palmeiras. In the end both clubs gave up their chase, blaming Assis and were offended by his actions saying “he [Ronaldinho] is not welcome anymore”.
At the start of the January transfer window, Gremio were the club leading the race to sign Ronaldinho. The club president hoped to lure the playmaker back to Porto Alegre by pulling on his heart strings, bringing him back to the city where his family lives. Directors of the club thought they had agreed a contract over dinner with Assis, Ronaldinho’s brother, even toasting the occasion with a glass of champagne.
Then on the 6th January, the Milan vice-president, Adriano Galliani, who was in his own flat in Rio de Janeiro, called a press conference together with Ronaldinho and Assis at Copacabana’s Palace – the most famous hotel in Rio. More than 500 Flamengo fans gathered outside to show their support for Ronaldinho.
Galliani announced that Milan were willing to enter negotiations over Ronaldinho’s future. However, the only information they provided in over an hour of interviews with Brazilian and Italian journalist was: “absolutely nothing has been agreed with any club.” Though Galliani did make his preference for Flamengo clear, because of his love for Rio, albeit jokingly. Assis said that the transfer depended on Milan as well as himself and Ronaldinho.
Following much confusion, Patricia Amorim, Flamengo president, met with Galliani and a deal was done to take the playmaker to Rio de Janeiro. The deal sees ‘Dinho signing a 4 year contract worth a reported €630,000 a month – which will be paid in part by sports marketing firm Traffic. There is also a colossal €182 million buy out clause on his contract, the biggest in Brazilian football.
In terms of quality, Ronaldinho’s return is going to be superb for Brazilian football. The country is used to growing top players and exporting them to the European market. The Brazilian supporters usually only have the opportunity to see idols playing in Brazil when they are at the end of the career.
Ronaldinho will participate in the regional championships which start soon, before the National championship kicks off in May. The ‘Campeonato Carioca’ includes all of the clubs in the Rio de Janeiro area, with few having the defensive quality to stop him there will be great expectations for Ronaldinho to put on a show.
A word of warning is necessary, there’s only one person who can stop Ronaldinhoand that is Ronaldinho himself. It’s no secret that he likes partying. He did it (a lot) during and after the Brazilian failure at the World Cup in 2006, during his stay in Barcelona and in Milan as well. It is unlikely to be any different in Rio – famous for samba, carnival, caipirinhas, beers, beaches, beautiful women….
However recent examples should be in the forefront of Ronaldinho’s mind if he has any true desire of getting back into the Brazil squad. Adriano, who was also playing for Flamengo, was immersed in problems involving his life off the pitch. He was often late for training, been involved with drug dealers and had numerous affairs with women to name but a few of his misdemeanours. To begin with his problems were hidden, as Flamengo won the National championships in his first year with the club. The next year, the results dried up and he wasn’t asked to join the Brazilian national team for the World Cup.