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Ronaldinho deal a steal for Milan?
by Joe Addison, July 17th, 2008 7:01AM
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Despite Ronaldinho's much-publicized problems with weight, partying and missed training sessions, most pundits seem to agree that Milan has gotten the better end of the deal that has sent the Brazilian from Barcelona.

Barcelona pocketed $35 million from the sale of Ronaldinho to AC Milan, a figure that will rise to $41 million if the Italian club qualifies for the 2009-10 Champions League. But that sum is considerably less than the $50 million offered by Premiership side Manchester City earlier in the week and seems infinitesimal when compared to the $90 million AC Milan offered a summer ago.

In Ronaldinho, Milan acquires a two-time FIFA World Player of the Year who at 28 can offer a few more years of magic, provided he stays committed.

But even more mouth-watering is the Brazilian triangle that will lead AC Milan's attack. Ronaldinho will team up with 2007 FIFA World Player of the Year Kaka and exciting 18-year-old Alexandre Pato to form a dangerous front line.

Working with his countryman, it seems, was a defining factor in Ronaldinho's decision to spurn Manchester City's advances in favor of the San Siro.

"It's true. I really wanted to come to Milan. A lot of things happened and at the end I became Rossonero," he said. "It's great to find so many Brazilians, and also so many other champions wearing the Milan jersey."

Ronaldinho's move to Milan will also allow him to participate in the Olympics. Coach Dunga called up the gifted dribbler along with Real Madrid's Robinho and Fluminense defender Thiago Silva as Brazil's three overage players in the U-23 tournament.

After Dunga's announcement, Barcelona publicly stated that it would not release the player for the Games. Milan, however, will honor the player's commitment to his country.

"We respect the obligation that he took on before he came to Milan," club vice-president Adriano Galliani told reporters.

Coach Carlo Ancelotti also supports Ronaldinho's trip to Beijing, saying, "It is a chance for him to find his fitness. When he comes back, he will be ready. He will only need to learn his place in our system."

Ronaldinho will join Milan teammate Pato in China but Kaka will not be making the trip. Kaka expressed interest in playing at the Olympics, but the Italian side made it clear they would not release him. According to FIFA guidelines, clubs do not have to release overage players.

Milan also brought in Mathieu Flamini from Arsenal at the beginning of the summer on a free transfer. The club is hoping for a turnaround after a disappointing last season. Milan finished fifth in Serie A and will now play in the UEFA Cup instead of the more prestigious Champions League.

Barcelona, in the meantime, has wasted little time in splashing around the cash raised from Ronaldinho's sale.

Belarusian midfielder Alexander Hleb joins the squad from Arsenal for $24 million.

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