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Futures of Barca Fantasticos Ronaldinho, Henry and Eto'o in doubt
by Paul Kennedy, April 23rd, 2008 6:45AM



[IN THE SPOTLIGHT] Barcelona's semifinal series against Manchester United in the UEFA Champions League, which begins Wednesday (TV: ESPN2, ESPN Deportes, live, 2:30 pm ET) in Barcelona, will go a long way toward deciding the makeup of the team going forward. Barca touted its "Four Fantasticos" -- Ronaldinho, Thierry Henry, Samuel Eto'o and Lionel Messi -- but its domestic troubles are so severe that three of them -- Ronaldinho, Henry and Eto'o -- are rumored to possibly be leaving Barcelona.

RONALDINHO. There has been persistent talk of the Brazilian's imminent move to AC Milan, but the Italian club's vice president, Adriano Galliani, downplayed talk that a deal could be struck with Barcelona.

"I don't know if a deal will be done," said Galliani Monday after talks with Barcelona on a transfer fee stalled. "We have to operate within the framework of market conditions. If it happens, great, if not we'll change our objectives."

Milan is rumored to have an agreement with Ronaldinho's brother and agent, Roberto de Assis, on a contract.

"I've never said we are close to Barcelona," said Galliani. "It's one thing to be close to Ronaldinho, quite another to be close to the club."

If a deal with Milan falls through, there are other suitors. Inter Milan, Chelsea and Manchester City all could open talks on a deal.

Chances of leaving: 90 percent.

THIERRY HENRY. The Frenchman's first season at the Camp Nou could be his last.

Barcelona's decision to pay $32 million for Henry is viewed to have been a mistake by many in Barca circles.

He was coming off an injury-riddled season at Arsenal and has never regained the form that made him the only player to win the Football Writers' Association Footballer of the Year three times.

Lingering back problems and family issues -- he recently divorced, leaving his 2-year-old daughter with his ex-wife in London -- are to blame for his lackluster showing.

Chances of leaving: 50 percent.

SAMUEL ETO'O. The 27-year-old Cameroonian's comments critical of the situation at Barcelona after its 0-0 tie with Espanyol last weekend has fueled talk that Tottenham is in the hunt for the Cameroonian international, whose contract at Barca extends two more years.

An Eto'o move would only be possible if Bulgarian Dimitar Berbatov -- as expected -- left White Hart Lane.

Eto'o joined Barca from Mallorca in 2000 in a $38 million transfer and has scored 77 goals in 105 La Liga games.

He downplayed the talk of his move from Barca, saying his comments to a children's group were simply the truth. If Barca doesn't win a major title this season or next, he doesn't see how he could stay.

"What I said was," Eto' said, "that I would not feel comfortable playing in a team that signed me to score goals and to win, and I don't manage it. I would not be able to look the fans in the face."

Chances of leaving: 20 percent.


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