Barcelona get their man


United lose race to sign Ronaldinho

BARCELONA: Ronaldinho signed a five-year contract with Barcelona here on Saturday and would complete his move from Paris St Germain if he passed his medical yesterday, the Spanish club announced. 

The 23-year-old player had flown in from Brazil to finalise personal terms after Barcelona announced they had beaten Manchester United in the race to sign the Brazilian World Cup winner. 

Barca announced that PSG had accepted their bid of 30 million euros (US$33.6 million) after rejecting a lower offer from United, according to the French club’s president Francis Graille. 

Barcelona’s vice-president Sandro Rosell said late on Saturday that he had been through Ronaldinho’s contract point by point during a five hours of negotiations and that the Brazilian would undergo a medical before being presented to the media today. 

“I am very happy,” the player told Spanish radio. 

Between three and five million euros of the fee will be linked to results. 

New Barcelona president Joan Laporta was determined to lure a star player to Barca after seeing David Beckham move to Real Madrid in June in a deal worth around 35 million euros. 

The move to Spain came after PSG president Graille again hit out at Manchester United for their conduct in trying to sign the Brazilian. 

Graille criticised the English Premiership champions for not playing by the FIFA rulebook by negotiating directly with the player himself. 

“We weren’t impressed at all by the behaviour of their representatives,” Graille said. 

“In fact Manchester United have been too sure of themselves, believing that they’d done the hard work by negotiating directly with the player and going behind PSG’s backs.” 

United manager Alex Ferguson held lengthy talks with Graille on Thursday, and having seen his big catch slip away the Scot will be more determined than ever now to bring in a major name before the new season gets underway to fill the void left by Beckham. 

Ferguson could switch his attention to Blackburn Rovers’ Damien Duff, who has just completed two days of talks with Chelsea, who have put a £17 million (US$27 million) price tag on the Republic of Ireland international. 

Ronaldinho’s capture is a major coup for Barcelona, who are intent on bouncing back after a poor domestic campaign which saw them trail in sixth to arch rivals Real Madrid. 

Despite reaching quarter-finals of the Champions league last season, they will have to make do with the UEFA Cup next season. 

Coach Radomir Antic was sacked in June and replaced with former Dutch international Frank Rijkaard, who became Barca’s third Dutch coach after Johan Cruyff and Louis van Gaal. 

Barca’s other close season recruits were Fenerbahce’s Turkey goalkeeper Rustu Recber, rated one of the best stoppers at last year’s World Cup, Mexican defender Rafael Marquez and highly-rated teenage striker Ricardo Quaresma. – AFP 

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