With the aim of significantly improve offensive qualities for the remainder of the Brazilian championship, Palmeiras recently initiated talks with Ronaldinho Gaúcho. The former Barcelona player – voted best player of the year in 2004 and 2005 – has been discretely shopping around for a new club ever since leaving Atlético Mineiro earlier this year. Apparently, Palmeiras and Ronaldinho reached an agreement on Tuesday afternoon and papers were made ready for signing, but the player (or his brother and manager Assis, or both) pulled out in the last minute, frustrating all those expecting his announcement at the club’s centenary gala dinner hosted that very night. Palmeiras have officially declared negotiations as closed.
Considering Ronaldinho’s track record, yesterday’s anti-climax comes as little surprise. We all remember how he and his brother Assis, a few years back, orchestrated nothing short of an auction between Palmeiras and Grêmio – leaving Grêmio confident to the point of having a stage set up and invite supporters to the announcement of the player – only to see Ronaldinho sign with Flamengo. If that’s how you treat the club who brought you up, imagine any other club.
Ronaldinho still has loads of talent and skill. Clubs seek him out, even knowing he cannot be trusted, knowing his behaviour to be unethical. Palmeiras, in dire need of quality reinforcements, gave it a shot and were burned again. I don’t really blame them for trying.
What intrigues me about Ronaldinho is when trying to imagine what motivates him. If today it is nothing but money, it has not always been so: no player makes it to the top of the ladder motivated by greed. Ronaldinho, at some point or gradually, has changed into what he is today. Palmeiras reportedly offered him a short contract, until the end of the year, with monthly revenues expected to reach some US$ 270.000 plus bonuses. He would play for one of Brazil’s most traditional clubs, in the year of their centenary, participating in the opening of the new Allianz Parque stadium, contribute to save Palmeiras from relegation and have songs sung about him for eternity. Apparently not attractive enough, as he backs out in the last minute, toying with 15 million supporters and a centenary of traditions.
Ronaldinho the athlete is one thing. Ronaldinho the human, another completely. I respect the achievements of the former. A loath the lack of character of the latter.
— ooo —
In tonight’s clash in the Copa do Brasil, where Palmeiras take on Atlético Mineiro in the Group of 16, we might see the debut of the most promising kid in a long time coming from the club’s youth academy: 17-year-old Gabriel Fernando. The forward is current top scorer in this year’s edition of the São Paulo U17 championship with 24 goals in 9 (!) games. Gabriel will obviously start on the bench, but hopefully coach Gareca finds the right moment for his entrance tonight.
Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!