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July 16, 2008

Ronaldinho signs with AC Milan and arrives at the italian city

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Ronaldinho Gaucho was transferred from Spaniard club FC Barcelona to Italian powerhouse AC Milan, according to the rossoneri team. This way, we can see the end of several days of furious negotiations in which the Brazil playmaker appeared eager to avoid a move to Manchester City.

At this moment, Ronaldinho Gaucho is in Milan, passing a medical exam and expecting to sign a contract until June 2011.

Barcelona announced that AC Milan will pay €21 million (US$33.6 million) for Ronaldinho and another €4 million (US$6.4 million) later if the Italian club clinches a place in the 2009-10 UEFA Champions League.

"The brazilian footballer ended up playing where he wanted to. Ronaldinho wants to be part of Milan," Barcelona sporting director Txiki Begiristain admitted.

According to the Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper, Milan will pay Ronaldinho €6.5 million (US$10.4 million) per season.

A two-time FIFA World Player of the Year, Ronaldinho Gaucho has been seeking to leave Barcelona since new coach Pep Guardiola said that the playmaker was surplus this season.

"Ronaldinho is ours. Galliani called me from FC Barcelona," Milan president and Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi admitted. "Galliani said deal was reached and tomorrow he will sign. Today there was a handshake, but we don't have any reason to doubt the word of the persons involved."

In fact, he transfer amount was considerably less than the €32 million that Barcelona said Manchester City had offered at some point.

We must remember that Ronaldinho scored 91 goals in 200 appearances in his five seasons at the Camp Nou, and helped lead Barcelona to consecutive Spanish league titles in 2005 and 2006, and the Champions League trophy in 2006.

At AC Milan, Gaucho will join fellow Brazilians Kaka and Alexandre Pato in the Rossonero attack.

The announcement made after 11 p.m. Tuesday concluded several days of furious negotiations between AC Milan vice president Adriano Galliani, Ronaldinho's brother and agent Roberto de Assis, Barça's president Joan Laporta and Begiristain.

The 28-year-old Ronaldinho Gaucho was under contract with Barcelona through 2010 but was coming off one of his worst seasons with nine goals in 26 overall appearances.

Assorted injuries — ranging from a foot problem to thigh injury to knee tendinitis — accompanied by concerns over his social habits contributed to Ronaldinho playing the fewest matches since first moving to Europe to play for French side Paris Saint-Germain in 2001.

As we know, Ronaldinho turned down Manchester United to sign for Barcelona in July 2003, shortly after David Beckham rejected Laporta's advances to sign for Real Madrid. Laporta bought 2002 World Cup winner Ronaldinho for €30 million (then-US$34 million) and brought winning football back to Barcelona with the Brazil forward's dazzling dribbles and no-look assists.

He was the main reason for Barcelona to win consecutive league titles in 2005 and 2006 and its second European Cup in 2006.

Indeed, Ronaldinho Gaucho even managed to earn a standing ovation from the Santiago Bernabeu faithful after scoring a second time in a 3-0 victory over Madrid during the team's second title run.

But since its 2-1 victory over Arsenal in Paris in the 2006 European Champions League final, Barcelona's dip in form has paralleled that of its biggest star, who continued with his late-night partying despite consecutive trophy-less seasons and drew continued criticism with the player visibly overweight.

AC Milan is coming off a disappointing season in which it finished fifth in Serie A and was eliminated by Arsenal in the second round of the Champions League. Milan will play in the UEFA Cup this season.

It's important to mention that Milan also has signed defender Gianluca Zambrotta from Barcelona, midfielder Mathieu Flamini from Arsenal and regained forward Marco Borriello, who scored 19 goals while on loan to Genoa last season — third among Serie A scoring leaders.

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