Former World Player of the Year Ronaldinho has signed a four-year contract with Flamengo in a bid to revive his flagging career and win a place in Brazil’s 2014 World Cup squad.
“Ronaldo de Assis Moreira, or simply Ronaldinho Gaucho, will wear the Flamengo shirt,” said Flamengo on their website (www.flamengo.com.br).
Ronaldinho was last week given permission by AC Milan to seek a move home to Brazil after he failed to hold down his place with the Serie A team.
On Saturday, the Italian club’s vice-president Adriano Galliani said the two clubs had reached an agreement.
The 30-year-old, who had also been chased by Gremio, the club where he was raised, and Palmeiras, was overlooked by Brazil squad for the World Cup last year but is still hoping to make the squad in 2014.
“I can imagine these supporters in a full stadium,” said Ronaldinho. “The supporters can expect the best from him. I came back to Brazil and to play with Flamengo to give them this.
“I also hope that my performances can put me back in the Brazilian team again.”
Flamengo claim to be Brazil’s most popular club with 25 million supporters.
Ronaldinho reached his peak when he helped Brazil win the 2002 World Cup and then during a five-year spell with Barcelona, where he was twice voted Fifa’s World Player of the Year.
But after a disappointing performance at the 2006 World Cup, his partying lifestyle and lack of fitness began to show and he joined AC Milan in 2008.
Italy saw only flashes of his astonishing skills and he also fell out of favour with Brazil coach Dunga who, after giving him plenty of opportunities, including a place in the 2008 Olympic Games team, left him out of the 2010 World Cup squad.
He was recalled by new coach Mano Menezes for November’s friendly with Argentina in Doha, winning his 93rd cap in a 1-0 defeat.
Ronaldinho, who initially left Brazil in 2001 to join Paris St Germain, joins a growing army of top Brazilian players who have returned home, attracted by a strong lower currency.
Others include Ronaldo, Roberto Carlos, Deco - who was raised in Brazil although he played for Portugal - and Fred.
The signing of Ronaldinho is likely to cause another wave of huge expectation at Flamengo, one of Brazil’s most volatile clubs.
Flamengo have won five Brazilian championship titles, most recently in 2009, but finished only two points above the relegation zone last season.
Their attempts to add to the only title in the Libertadores Cup, South America’s equivalent of the Champions League, have produced a series of spectacular failures.
Beckham arrives at Spurs
David Beckham arrived at Tottenham’s training ground on Monday, with the Premier League club still hoping they can take the former England captain on loan.
The Los Angeles Galaxy midfielder turned up at Spurs’ facility in Chigwell, northeast London for a medical which he passed.
Tottenham, who have reached the knockout phase of the Champions League, have said Beckham will only be training with them but manager Harry Redknapp is still hopeful of signing the player on loan during the rest of the US off-season.
Beckham, after his initial visit, returned to Chigwell later on Monday wearing Spurs training kit, fuelling speculation the loan deal could yet go ahead.
The 35-year-old has not played for an English club since he turned out for Manchester United on the final day of the 2002-03 season.
He is set to return to Chigwell on Tuesday to train with the Spurs first team squad ahead of their match against league leaders United at White Hart Lane on Sunday.
Henry back training with Arsenal
Arsenal great Thierry Henry has returned to training with the Premier League side in a bid to maintain fitness ahead of the start of the Major League Soccer season in the United States.
Henry, who plays for the New York Red Bulls in MLS, scored 226 goals for Arsenal in a successful spell with the London club between 1999 and 2007.
The 33-year-old France forward left Arsenal to join Barcelona in 2007 before signing for New York in July last year.
“Thierry Henry is back at Arsenal,” a statement on Arsenal’s official website read.
“The Gunners legend returned to London Colney on Monday to train with Arsene Wenger’s squad. The short-term arrangement will help Henry maintain his fitness ahead of the new MLS campaign, which begins in March.”
Henry joined the New York Red Bulls last year and helped them reach the play-offs, where they lost on aggregate to San Jose Earthquakes in November.
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