MADRID: Relations between Barcelona and Ronaldinho have reached a point of no return and the club may dispense with the Brazilian star at the end of the season, Spanish newspapers said on Wednesday.
This has put Chelsea on red alert.
The Sun newspaper in London had revealed in September that Chelsea had provisionally agreed to hand him a five-year deal worth £11.6mil a season.
But the two-time World Player of the Year decided to stay in Spain until at least the end of the season.
The Catalan club’s management is fed up with the midfielder's late-night outings and his continued poor form this season, and is looking for a way to get rid of him, said sports dailies Marca and Sport.
Club president Joan Laporta told a news conference late on Tuesday there is “no divorce between Ronaldinho and Barca”.
But Spanish media said the divorce has already been finalised and the question of the striker’s departure was discussed at a club meeting on Tuesday.
The Brazilian, 28, was bought from Paris Saint-Germain for around 30mil euros (US$47mil) in 2003, and is under contract to the Catalan club until the summer of 2010 with a salary estimated at around 8mil euros a year.
Sport said Barca may let him go this summer, without demanding a huge transfer fee, to any number of European clubs who have shown interest, in particular Chelsea and AC Milan.
Ronaldinho is having his worst season since arriving at the Catalan club.
The Spanish press, which has been full of speculation about Ronaldinho recently, last week delighted in mocking him when he missed a match through injury even though doctors found nothing wrong with him.
Barca said on their website on Wednesday that Ronaldinho had performed recuperation exercises in the club’s gym in the morning.
Frank Rijkaard’s team are now just four points behind league leaders Real Madrid after thrashing Valladolid 4-1 at Nou Camp on Sunday – without Ronaldinho. – Agencies