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On the 17th January in 2001, Ronaldinho made his entrance into European football by signing for Parisian outfit, Paris Saint Germain. It was a move that came as a surprise to many as most South American starlets normally head straight to either Italy or Spain and often times Portugal.

But as it would turn out, Ronaldinho’s experience in France prepared him well for his years at his next club, Barcelona, where he would go on to etch his name into football folklore.

Signed by the Blaugrana only after the Catalan side failed in their bid to sign David Beckham, there simply are not enough superlatives to describe the five seasons Ronaldinho plied his trade for the Spanish giants. Quite simply, it was here that Ronaldinho played football that at times seemed like it was from another dimension.

During this spell Ronaldinho was a pivotal figure in helping Barcelona to two successive La Liga titles between 2005 and 2006 as well as a Champions League triumph. In a total of 207 appearances for the Blaugrana, he notched up an incredible 95 goals and 85 assists. His standout season was no doubt the 2005-06 campaign where he contributed a total of 25 goals and 21 assists in just 45 appearances.

On a personal account, Ronaldinho received countless individual honours during this time. Amongst others he collected the Don Balon Award in both 2004 and 200, European football of the year in 2005, FIFPro World Player of the Year in 2005 and 2006 and of course the FIFA World Player of the Year Award in both 2004 and 2005.

The high point of Ronaldinho’s career at Barcelona and arguably of his career was in his display against Real Madrid at the Bernabeu in the 2005-06 season. In a majestic display, Ronaldinho scored two goals against the Madrid giants, including one where he ran more than an entire half of the field bypassing the Real defenders before slotting past Iker Casillas. One will always remember how the Madrid fans gave the hero of their eternal enemy a standing ovation when he was substituted.

For all his genius and perhaps because he was one, Ronaldinho suffered from a lack of discipline that since his time at Paris Saint Germain had caused troubles between him and his managers. Luiz Fernandez, while coach of PSG when Ronaldinho was there, complained that his Brazilian ace was more interested in the Paris night life than football.

In the 2007-08 season Ronaldinho’s discipline, or rather lack of, started to become a problem again as tensions grew with manager Frank Rijkaard. He lost his place as a starting player in the side as it became evident that after years of unparalleled success, Ronaldinho had lost his motivation as sighted by President Joan Laporta who claimed Dinho needed a ‘new challenge’.

Refusing an offer from Manchester City, Ronaldinho signed a deal with Milan in July of 2008. His first season in Italy was one of mild success at best. He scored his first goal for Milan in one-nil victory over Internazionale in the derby and went on to score a total of 10 goals that season, contributing eight assists. Not a great record, though, it has to be noted that then coach Carlo Ancelotti only gave his new Brazilian ace 18 starting births that whole season.

It was the following season in the 2009-10 campaign where the Ronaldinho that the world came to love whilst at Barcelona re-emerged. In a season where Milan fielded arguably their weakest team in modern times, Ronaldinho, who was installed as the focal point of the team by then coach Leonardo, helped lead the Rossoneri to a respectable third place finish.

During the course of this season Ronaldinho contributed 17 assists in all competitions scoring 15 goals. He was the top assist provided in Italy and across Europe.

Ronaldinho’s rebirth, however, has proven to be a false dawn as this season he has again been relegated to the bench by Milan’s new coach Max Allegri. Allegri, who unlike Leonardo expects much more discipline from his players, has out-casted Dinho due to his lack of fitness, late night antics that have culminated in poor performances.

With Milan sitting comfortably atop of the Serie A standings and with qualification to the knockout stages of the Champions League secured with one game remaining, Allegri’s decision to sideline the Milan number 80 seems vindicated.

So far this season Ronaldinho has only managed one goal in ten starts. In his last six matches, he has been an unused substitute three times whilst the other three times he has been brought on only in the 85th minute or even later. An embarrassing situation for a player of his calibre.

Ronaldinho will turn 31 next year and it seems that before then he will have parted ways with the Rossoneri as it is quite clear that he is no longer part of Allegri’s plans. Whether it is in January of next summer, it is inevitable that Dinho will leave Europe with the USA or the Middle East his most likely destinations.

By then it will have been ten years since his arrival in Europe and his departure from the continent will mark the end of an era. For a player that captured the imagination of the world with his mastery of the ball, his unparalleled skills and array of flicks, dinks and kicks, it will be a sad day when he does finally leave.

Though he will still continue to entertain wherever he does end up, the fact of the matter is that the world has already seen the best of this truly phenomenal player called Ronaldinho.

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One Response so far.

  1. rossonero3 says:

    Dinho’s days in Milan are numbered. We’re a better TEAM without him. Milan must cash in on him, this winter and buy a new number 10. We’ve been linked with Brazilian starlet Ganso. I think he’d be a great purchase!

    I don’t want to see Dinho in the MLS…that’s just pathetic! He should go back to Brazil….is it a coincidence that Dinho’s time at Milan, has been the worst in our history????

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