Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Is Ronaldinho Worth 40m Euros Anymore?

Barcelona president Joan Laporta has just announced that the club will not let go of their star midfielder Ronaldinho for a transfer fee less than 40 million Euros. Such a statement would not have been questioned a few seasons back, but with the Brazilian soccer player's star having plunged dramatically in the last two years, it would seem ridiculous to expect any club to want to invest that sort of money on a player who seems to be crippled with injuries, poor attitude, discipline and a lack of motivation. Laporta should re-assess his own valuation of the player, and look to get rid of a player that has disrupted internal team harmony for much of the season, instead of trying to get back as much of the club's initial investment of the player. With the past success on the field for Barcelona when the player could still play for them, as well as the revenue generate from shirt sales and such, this valuation of 40 million Euros could easily be reduced to kickstart any potential transfer of the player to a new club. There should not even be a question of not wanting to send him to a rival team in Spain or even Europe, as Ronaldinho could easily disrupt any team harmony in his future club as he has done so in each of his previous teams.

Laporta also discusses the possibility of Ronaldinho still being at the club come next season, if no club could meet the asking price of 40 million Euros for the Brazilian. No one in his right mind will believe the president's words, as it has been clear the whole season that he had fallen out with the player, and cannot wait to see the back of Ronaldinho. The only reason for this approach right now would be a last desperate measure by the club to get as much out of the transfer as possible, and it might potentially backfire greatly on them if the bidding clubs decide not to take the bait. AC Milan remains the club in the best position to snare the player from Spanish hands, with the player himself declaring his desire to move to the fashion capital of the world. However, it will need some steely negotiations from both sides to quickly see a resolution to an increasingly farcical situation that has dogged Barcelona and ruined their second season in succession. The first doubts over Ronaldinho surfaced last season when Barcelona failed to sustain any challenge both at home and in Europe, and has quickly descended to a circus act this year, with claims and counterclaims about the Brazilian carrying a false injury ordered by the club in order to keep him out of the team.

Frank Rijkaard remains the man caught in the middle and it has been a sad sight watching the Dutchman trying to guide the club to results amidst all the confusion and circumstances that has made Barcelona the laughing stock both in Spain and Europe. While Liverpool's situation with their American owners would come close, the fact remains that Barcelona has a star studded stable of players that should easily conquer both their domestic league and the Champions League. They have failed again this year and are in real danger of ending another season without any trophies if they fail to beat Manchester United tonight in their second leg semi final in the Champions League. It would be impossible for any manager to concentrate and bring results on the field in such a mess, and even Alex Ferguson might have some sympathy for his counterpart in the opposite dugout tonight. One can only wait and see what will happen next in the Barcelona sideshow and what will happen to the team after tonight's game. Will there be a mass exodus of players and manager, or can they quickly rise out from the ashes and challenge Real Madrid again in the La Liga?

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