Ronaldinho: A fall from grace

by Marc Sibbons

Wednesday, December 22nd, 2010

For a player once considered to be one of the best of his generation, the football world will be shocked to hear that Milan playmaker Ronaldinho is close to returning to his native Brazil to rejoin former club Gremio.

Cast your mind back to 2005/2006 season and you wouldn’t find another player in the world on par with Ronaldinho. Then at Barcelona, the samba superstar was setting the world alight with his outstanding dribbling, trickery and iconic smile that saw him win the Champions League along with collecting the FIFPro World Player Of The Year acclaim.

Currently at AC Milan, Ronaldinho has seen first team opportunities hard to come by, being relegated to the substitutes bench on numerous occasions due to an alarming dip in form and questions over his fitness. A far cry from the man who used to terrorise oppositions defences week in week out during his Barcelona days.

After arriving at Milan for a fee believed to £14.5m, Ronaldinho has only shown glimpses of his unquestionable talent. After a slow start, he was arguably Milan’s best player last season scoring 15 goals in 43 appearances, where it appeared the Ronaldinho of old was starting to rediscover his best form.

However, this season has seen the Brazilian frustrated by a lack of playing time with only 4 appearances to his name in all competitions. Milan’s summer signings Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Robinho along with wonderkid Alexandre Pato are the preffered attackers at the San Siro  this season with Ronaldinho  a distant spectator on the sidelines.

A move back to Brazil is now likely for Ronaldinho where he aims to put that smile back on his face and see first team action on a regular basis in order to break into the national side in time for the World Cup in 2014. At 30 years of age, Ronaldinho still has many years left in his locker and still has time to silence his critics and reinstate himself as the best player in the world once again. However, a swift exit from Europe will not do him any favours where he doesn’t want to follow in the footsteps of fellow compatriot Adriano’s decision to return to Brazil last season.

Speculation is rife that Gremio have already signed Ronaldinho, although this has not yet been confirmed. With his contact expiring next summer and a new contract not looking in the balance, Ronaldinho has to make a vital decision that may still save his career.

Many clubs have been rumoured to hold an interest in developments in Milan, where it wouldn’t be a problem finding potential suitors should he decide to stay in Europe. Will we see a resurgent Ronaldinho reeking havoc in Europe in the next year or will a move back to his homeland surely spell the end for the genius that is Ronaldinho.

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  • Sam Wheatley

    I think it’s highly likely that Ronaldinho will return to Brazil and highly unlikely that he will ever be the same player again. You have to remember that with Milan’s coaching staff and set-up that they are always willing to give extraordinarily talented but troubled players a chance – if they’ve given up, it could well be the end. With the signing of Cassano, I’d say Ronaldinho’s number is up. In a few years we’ll all be looking at videos of his Barcelona days wondering what ever happened to him. The truth is that his off-field behaviour has been the deciding factor in his decline, and no club can change that – not even Milan, it seems.

  • C.J.

    It’s stupid the way Allegri has treated him, and Berlusconi won’t be happy if Ronaldinho leaves.

    Moving back to Brasil does not tarnish his reputation whatsoever, he is still the best player of his generation and one of the greatest of all-time. He still has world-class playing years left in him that could be spent in Europe, but there i no doubt he will enjoy his football much more, and as a Gremista I am excited with the idea of him returning home. Brasilian football is only on the up, and another high-profile transfer will only improve it’s reputation.

    I’m not sure how he will fit into Renato Gaucho’s system, but either Douglas or Souza (the attacking midfielders in the 4-2-2-2/4-4-2 system) could be replaced by him.

    Ronaldinho is a very unique player, even when comparing him to Robinho or Pato. It is only Allegri’s choice; another manager could easily choose him over another. We saw his form was just as good at the start of the season, and it was a shame he was stuck on the bench.

  • Marc Sibbons

    I find it strange that Allegri is starting to ignore Ronaldinho after initially praising him earlier on in the season. He is still a massive asset to Milan, and is one of those players that can create something out of nothing. I am not the biggest fan of either Robinho or Ibrahimovic but the latter has certainly made a significant impact this season. I hope he does stay at Milan and regain his place because he still has alot of talent left in his locker. Either that or move to another top side in Europe as opposed to moving back to Brazil, because he can do that in 3 or 4 years as he is only 30 years old, an age when playmakers generally reach their peak.

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