Sambafoot Sunday: Ronaldinho's new contract is the right result for all parties
Sambafoot Sunday by James Nalton. The beat goes on...
Ronaldinho recently signed a new contract with Atlético Mineiro, amidst rumours linking him with a move to Turkish side Besiktas. In 2013 Ronaldinho won South America’s top club competition, the Copa Libertadores, with the Belo Horizonte club, and his decision to play for them again in 2014 is probably the wisest choice for all concerned, including Besiktas.
When a world football legend such as Ronaldinho is available on the market clubs will sit up and take note, possibly viewing the player more as a marketing opportunity than an improvement to their first team.
Romanticists put forward a case for the seductively out of contract former Ballon d’Or winner, arguing that as well as selling shirts in the club shop, he could still do a job on the pitch.
Ronaldinho’s contributions to Atlético Mineiro’s cause have been significant, but also sporadic. Those watching the highlight reels will see expertly taken free kicks, ranging through balls, and world class set piece delivery, as he helped his side through their 2013 Copa Libertadores campaign. His supply to the likes of Jô, Diego Tardelli, and his young protégé Bernard, played a big part in their continental cup campaign, but his performances were mercurial and other players contributed more.
Maybe mercurial is what you’d expect from Ronaldinho, but had a move to Besiktas materialised you get the feeling that the passionate fans in Istanbul would have expected some hard graft to go with the guile. The Turkish side were reportedly struggling to meet Ronaldinho’s wage demands, and with this in mind it would have been a gamble to bring such an expensive luxury into a demanding environment.
Atlético Mineiro, meanwhile, will negotiate a similar deal with Ronaldinho to the one which took him there in 2012, meaning the Brazilian league gets to keep one of its flagship players. The fact Ronaldinho is playing in Brazil means the league makes the headlines more often than it would without him, and this global exposure will only increase in 2014. Ronaldinho staying is good for the league.
It’s also good for Ronaldinho. The player’s brother and agent, Roberto Assis, commented on the reception he gets from his current club’s fans:
"There is a fantastic relationship there. He met with a crowd that was extremely affectionate with him and his whole family. The player feels very comfortable."
And as for Atlético Mineiro they’ll hope that their number 10 can help them in the league this season, as he helped them in the Libertadores last season. They also enter the 2014 Libertadores as defending champions despite finishing 8th in the league, and whilst a repeat of last season’s feats would be unlikely, his experience at the very top levels of the game will help them.
Ronaldinho staying put might be the best move for everyone involved, including any potential foreign suitors.