Ronaldinho spurns City, seals $33 million switch to Milan

Ronaldinho spurns City, seals $33 million switch to Milan

European Soccer

Ronaldinho spurns City, seals $33 million switch to Milan

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(Good morning all. Apologies for not touching on the Ronaldinho transfer, which went down yesterday afternoon, but I was busy with the Claudio Reyna retirement. SBI correspondent Carl Setterlund gives us a thorough breakdown of the Brazilian star’s move.)

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Finally, a resolution for at least one of the many big names on the market this summer.

Despite an ambitious effort from Manchester City, Ronaldinho is headed to his preferred choice, AC Milan, for a fee of at least €21 million, with the price elevating to as much as €25 million based on performance. For those of you dealing in US dollars, that translates to a cool $33.4 million heading into Barcelona’s pockets, with the maximum set at $39.8 million.

Although Thaksin Shinawatra and company are believed to have offered Barca €32 million ($51 million), word had it that the 28-year-old samba king favored a switch to one of the traditional European powers. Both clubs will partake in the UEFA Cup this season, but the difference between the two is that Milan are disappointed to have missed out on the UEFA Champions League while Man City are presumably thrilled to be playing European soccer next season. It also couldn’t have hurt Milan’s case that he would be headed to a talent-laden squad with the Rossoneri.

It’s hard to know where to begin when breaking down this story. Perhaps what’s most exciting is the idea of watching fantasy turn into reality as two superstar Brazilian midfielders (Ronaldinho and Kaká) and one fast-rising countryman up front (Alexandre Pato) headline the Milan attack. It will also be interesting to see if Carlo Ancelotti can balance what’s turning out to be a stacked midfield with Gennaro Gattuso, Andrea Pirlo, Clarence Seedorf and newcomer Mathieu Flamini all in the mix to start alongside his Brazilian tandem.

Just this offseason the Rossoneri have already added Gianluca Zambrotta and Marco Borrielo to the aforementioned Ronaldinho and Flamini. No doubt Silvio Berlusconi is looking to make up for a poor fifth-place showing in Serie A last season with big signings to bolster both offense and defense. You’ve certainly got to wonder how Milan made the decision between Ronaldinho and Emmanuel Adebayor, whom they were also said to be following, as this should be the last major piece to be added this offseason in their big makeover.

Despite a 2007-08 campaign plagued by injuries and questions of his fitness, Ronaldinho has still amassed quite a résumé to justify his reputation as one of the greats. After playing a part in Brazil’s 2002 World Cup victory, he moved to Barcelona and scored a whopping 83 goals over his first four seasons at the Camp Nou. And then you have to note that that probably doesn’t do justice to his impact on the field as Ronaldinho set up countless other goals and served as the offensive catalyst. Along the way, he won FIFA World Player of the Year twice, in 2004 and 2005, while also winning the Ballon d’Or in 2005. Then, in 2006, Ronaldinho helped Barcelona capture both the UEFA Champions League and La Liga trophies. When you look at his collective legacy I don’t think you can completely count out a guy on the right side of 30 from regaining his form as one of the world’s two or three best players. Am I right or is that just the Joga Bonito archive affecting my judgment?

An interesting side story to keep tabs on will be whether or not Ronaldinho continues to push in his quest to represent Brazil in the upcoming Olympics. Likewise, will AC Milan take a firm stance on protecting their new big-money signing?

Will Ronaldinho be a natural fit amongst AC Milan’s new embarrassment of riches or is this a mess in the making? How hard will the creative genius work to shed his image (and pounds)? As sort of a neutral spectator I know I’m looking forward to a revived and rejuvenated Ronaldinho if for nothing else than to see one of the true magicians at the top of his game again. What do you guys think of the signing?

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