There was a momentous day for world football in the transfer market this week, centering in La Liga, when Barcelona said hello to Ã‚Â£11.8 million signing Alexander Hleb from Arsenal and goodbye to their former Brazilian superstar Ronaldinho, who is on his way to Serie A and Milan.
This movement of players was momentous for a number of reasons. Firstly, it signals the end of an era at Barcelona. Secondly, it may trigger the return of one of the great individuals in world football. Thirdly, it leaves Arsenal fans scratching their heads and wondering what is going on. Fourthly, it leaves Milan unlikely to go through with a bid for Emmanuel Adebayor and lastly, it leaves Manchester City with about Ã‚Â£25 million burning a hole in their proverbial pockets.
Despite the fact that Ronaldinho has been plagued with injuries, loss of form and a predilection for the good life over the past two years, he has undoubtedly been one of the best players the world has ever seen and arguably, the best seen at the Camp Nou.
Ronaldinho is still only twenty-eight years old and he could still achieve great things. If Milan can get him back on track and focused on his football then who knows what might happen. What Ronaldinho achieved at Barcelona stands comparison with many of the greats over the years.
When he left PSG for the Camp Nou some five years ago it was widely believed that he was second choice behind David Beckham, who had preferred to go to BarcelonaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s bitter rivals, Real Madrid.
At the time, Barcelona were somewhat in the doldrums as they had only just achieved a Uefa Cup qualifying place by finishing sixth in La Liga. Ronaldinho joined new manager Frank Rijkaard in the job of trying to transform the clubÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s fortunes.
What they did in a wonderful style admired around the world, was achieve a second-placed finish in La Liga, followed by back to back titles and then the ultimate European club achievement of winning the Champions League in 2006.
At that time, when even Real Madrid fans were applauding his brilliance, there were few arguments about the fact that there was nobody better than him in world football. Hardly a game went by without Ronaldinho scoring a great goal, supplying a brilliant pass or cross to set up a goal, or at least providing a piece of sublime skill on the ball that nobody else had ever done in a game.
Since then, it has all gone rather downhill for the Brazilian showman. He now has a chance to revive his own fortunes with Milan. Most football fans will be hoping that he can rekindle the extreme levels of skill he entertained us with over those three seasons.
For Arsene WengerÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Arsenal the news that Hleb has left adds to the concern and apparent gloom after the earlier departure of Mathieu Flamini.
Although HlebÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s sale has come as no surprise, the loss of two of the players who took Arsenal so close to what could have been a record breaking season for them is a serious blow indeed. It is still more than possible that Emmanuel Adebayor will join the exodus from the Emirates, although the favourites to sign him, Milan, are unlikely to now do so. With Ronaldinho arriving at the San Siro, it is difficult to see Milan raising and spending the necessary money to prize away the Togo hit man.
It does now seem that when Arsene Wenger said at the end of last season that the biggest task he faced was to keep the players he already had rather than buy new ones; it looks as though he was right. It also looks as though he is losing that battle and that for some reason, players are looking to escape from what hardly appears to be a sinking ship.
Manchester City had been hoping to lure Ronaldinho to the bright lights and Samba sunshine of Moss side in Manchester. It is perhaps not too shocking that Ronaldinho preferred the attractions of Milan! Having said that, however unlikely Manchester CityÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s bid was, the Ã‚Â£25 million they offered was genuine. They are an ambitious club and manager Mark Hughes will be looking to spend that money wisely elsewhere. It will be interesting to see who he does manage to persuade to make the move to Eastlands.
It was only two transfers but they could lead to a large scale movement of players around the world. It looks as though Barcelona and Milan are going to mean business in the coming season and it looks as though there could be some problems at Arsenal. For Manchester City it will be difficult to attract the players that can help them break into that sort of category. They have the ambition but IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m not sure they have the ability to attract the players they would need.
At last, the transfer market has become a little bit interesting.
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