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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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Carlo Ancelotti elated with Ronaldinho signing

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After the latest events in Ronaldinho's tranfers, AC Milan boss Carlo Ancelotti admitted he is delighted the Rossoneri have all but secured the services of Barcelona playmaker Ronaldinho.

The talented Brazilian arrived at Milan to pass a medical review.

And Ancelotti knows this will mean a big boost for his team, who are aiming to bounce back from a disappointing campaign which saw them finish fifth in the Serie A standings and fail to qualify for the Champions League.

"I know that in these days fans will talk a lot about the Milan of the future," Ancelotti expressed. "There are a lot more options at our disposal. I am aware that the club have made a great sacrifice. Important players have arrived, not only Ronaldinho Gaucho."

Indeed, Ancelotti reckons Ronaldinho and fellow close-season acquisitions can only help his team as they bid for success in Serie A and in Europe.

"It's a special summer. We are counting on being competitive on all the team lines. We have strengthened ourselves at the back with (Gianluca) Zambrotta, in midfield with (Mathieu) Flamini, up front with Ronaldinho and (Marco) Borriello. We just have so many options.

"As we know, Ronaldinho Gaucho is an important player that creates enthusiasm. In everyone, even in the players. It's about translating this enthusiasm into results and good play. The attack is an area of quality, a mix between youth and players with experience."

It's important to mention that Ronaldinho's last season at Barcelona saw him bear the brunt of criticism over the Catalan giants' disappointing campaign.

Indeed, the two-time FIFA World Player of the Year winner was a shadow of his former self, with his poor form not helped by a long-term muscle injury, while photographs of him looking overweight led to the nickname 'Gordinho' - a play on the Spanish word for fat.

But the Brazilian playmaker insists he is ready to give his all for Milan and Ancelotti believes the 2002 World Cup winner is back to his world-beating best.

"I'm expecting all the maximum he can give," he added. "We want to put him in the conditions that he can return to the best in the world at Milan. He will find the ideal environment to redeem himself. He is integral and we are counting on his will.

"I'm convinced that with Ronaldinho and Kaka, we have to find different solutions. For me he is an intriguing boost: he can create something different". Milan coach must feel really confident that they can make the difference in Europe this season.

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Manchester City lost the bid for Ronaldinho, but that will not stop them

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Manchester City's manager Mark Hughes insisted on Wednesday that his club's failed attempt to sign Ronaldinho Gaucho won't stop him targeting the world's best players.

Indeed, City's ambitious bid to lure former World Player of the Year Ronaldinho to Eastlands ended in disappointment when AC Milan announced the Barcelona star will move to the San Siro.

But coach Hughes was encouraged by City's Thai owner Thaksin Shinawatra decision to sanction a massive financial package for Ronaldinho Gaucho, which would have paid the player 200,000 pounds (251,000 euros) a week.

"Indeed, we have presented our case as well as we possibly could and the fact that we are in there trying to get one of the top players in the world shows our ambition and where we want to go," Hughes admitted.

"And I just don't know the finer details of the negotiations, but the way the Ronaldinho deal was constructed was a little bit different by all accounts to an ordinary deal, so our budget would not have been affected as much as people think."

Accordign to him. Hughes is already turning his attention to other transfer options, with reports suggesting he will move for Blackburn duo, strikers Roque Santa Cruz and David Bentley, who were both signed by the Welshman during his time at Ewood Park.

"Obviously, I am being linked with players that I know and possibly have worked with before and then there are others that agents are trying to move on and place," he said.

"There is a lot of that going on at the moment. It is not my way to divulge who were are going after. I will keep them under wraps just in case someone jumps in at the last moment, but there is a lot of work going on behind the scenes" he concluded.

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