And like that he was gone
"Terms have been agreed" Code for he's out the door. The deal that looked on the cards last summer for about €30 million will finally come to pass this time around for about half that. The way things stand most at Barça will be delighted to see the back of him. He's been nothing short of a disaster this season. Slow, unfit, frequently injured, a shadow of the player he once was, robbed of all his urgency and drive.
It's such a shame that Ronaldinho's time at the Camp Nou had to end like this, a symbol of the malaise that has enveloped the club, a pariah.
I recall his signing from PSG (five years ago now) and wondering whether or not he was what the club needed. He had hardly set the world alight in Paris and though he'd had a good World Cup, stories of his drinking and late nights that became early mornings really troubled me. The last thing Barça needed was another Patrick Kluivert.
As it turns out, I was right to be concerned. He didn't train all that much and he was fond of a good time and ultimately his lifestyle would catch up with him. That said, in the in-between part, the first three seasons before both he and the Rijkaard/ Laporta revolution began to go off the rails, he was the one of the finest players ever to wear the blaugrana shirt, winning La Liga twice and the Champions League and playing teams off the pitch, destroying them, slicing defences open, hammering in freekicks, scoring from every possible angle, rising to every occasion, being the go-to guy, the one who made it all happen, linking seamlessly with Samuel Eto'o, Ludovic Giuly, Deco and Leo Messi.
At his peak he was the best player in the best team in the world. Hyperbole certainly but also true. I know I'm hardly an impartial observer but 'dinho was simply awesome. He was Rivaldo, Ronaldo, Romario, a stylish Brazilian forward who started like a freight train but would ultimately end up a train wreck. Barça, for all their pomp and Mes Que Un Club attitude have a history of falling out with some of their best, of not taking care of them when they should, of taking aim at them all too quickly and bundling them out the door with little regard for their contribution.
And that is I suppose why a move is best for all concerned. 'dinho needs to be loved, he needs support and perhaps Milan are the club to give it to him. Barça have already moved on. Messi, Gio, Bojan and Sammy are the future. Not even, they're the now. I'll sure as hell miss him though.
Aside from all this 'dinho news there was a match on Saturday night, away to Recre, which Barça predictably ballsed up (Valdes in particular...), twice taking the lead only to let it slip (though Recre's first didn't cross the line - 43 seconds in)
"We do need to think hard about this. We do the hard part, getting a lead, and then we stop creating chances. We have to get better in this respect because when we take the lead our opponents ought to open up.”
At least Charly is telling it like it is. The positives, and there weren't all that many, were that Sammy looked excellent doing what he ought be doing, playing through the middle and scoring gols (his second was sensational) Forgotten man Santi Ezquerro got a run out as did Leo Messi. Leo saw twenty-five minutes and while he looked understandably rusty and not quite match fit, he didn't re-injure himself and I'd expect to see him get a little more time against Espanyol, maybe a whole half before being thrown in from the start against Manchester United on Sant Jordi's Day.
Speaking of the Espanyol game, I'll be seeing Barça in all their faded glory this Saturday. The last time I was over at the Camp Nou was for the Betis game, which was fairly awful and only notable for the fact that it was to be Javier Saviola's last game for the club (poor Javier, things haven't improved for him any, being as he is a permanent fixture on the bench at Real) and that Rafael Sobis' late late gol knocked the collective stuffing out the blaugrana. Whether it'll be any different this time I don't know. Espanyol are on a pretty awful run themselves, having been up among the contenders for a Champions League place before Christmas, they've fallen to pieces on the back of the injury to Raul Tamudo and dropped down the table like a stone. It hardly promises to be an epic encounter but considering my expectations are so low it can't really disappoint...