That Ronaldo de Assís Moreira, aka Ronaldinho Gaucho, aka Ronaldinho is a great player is under a cloud. Just four years ago, he was rubbing shoulders with Diego Maradona as probably the greatest exponent of the game in living memory. Indeed, his complete control of the ball at his feet, the ability to swerve it one way, then the other, all the time keeping his marker guessing just what is going to happen next, is a sight to behold. For a brief moment it seemed as though the buck toothed genius was back. The moment was fleeting.
To say that he will never recapture the brilliance of his time at Barcelona would be grossly underestimating the 2006 Champions League winner. Ronaldinho has lost none of his skill. The ball still hits his foot as if colliding with a sponge. If anything, age and poor form have taught Dinho the advantages of a quick pass, or a curling cross as opposed to slaloming through to the box. When on song, he is still the most glorious sight in European football. Lionel Messi might be more exciting, Cristiano Ronaldo more effective, but the poetry in motion of the Brazilian is unparalleled.
His exit from AC Milan is sad. It would seem the two are perfect for each other. Both are hunting for lost pride and glory. Milan haven't won the Serie A in six seasons. In Europe too their dominance is fading. And Gaucho, exiled from Barcelona, would be coveting another shot at footballing immortality, to teach the new kids on the block how it's really done. Unfortunately, as his exit from i Rossoneri nears, it seems Ronaldinho is a name that will go into the 'could-have-been's list of world football, alongside the likes of Garrincha than the more coveted and envied list of all time legend, one that includes personalities such as Pele and Joan Cruyff.
The top buck at the moment is on Gremio as Ronaldinho next destination. With fellow Brazilians Ronaldo and Roberto Carlos returning to boyhood clubs to recapture form, and play-out their last days under the Brazilian sun, it might not be a bad idea to return to his boyhood home. Yet there is this huge sentiment that the 2002 World Cup winner has much more to offer to European football.
With Blackburn Rovers F.C. entering the race, one must wonder whether England is really an option for the troubled star. Rainy, gloomy Lancashire in the north west of England might not compare favorably to the sunny climes of Barcelona and Milan, nor match in terms of celebrity or fashion pull. But the things which have brought the former Ballon d'Or winner to this state might not appeal to him in the first place. If Ronaldinho is indeed looking to redeem his career and get back into the bracket of the top players in the world, he could do worse than the top tier of English football and a club with wealthy, ambitious owners looking to play eye-catching football. It also offers him a chance to showcase his talents to potential suitors like Manchester City and Chelsea, who wouldn't think twice before splashing the cash at him if he can show them he is capable of recapturing the magic that drew applause for a player belonging to L'equip blaugrana from a Santiago Bernabeu crowd.
Of course, that is if Dinho actually fails to take Blackburn to Europe on his own. With Manchester United and Arsenal looking the only two teams with any sort of long term future guaranteed, there are two Champions League spots up for grabs over the coming four or five seasons. Chelsea's squad is finally beginning to show signs of age, while City seem not to have lost the ability to shoot themselves in the foot with locker room bust ups and managerial blunders constantly working against the force of money. While Tottenham seem to have the squad to see them secure another Champions League spot for 2011-2012, strength in depth and player retention might come in to play sooner or later. If Ronaldinho does well, that is if he goes to England in the first place, the possibilities are endless, to use the cliché.
It would be sad to see one of the all time great performers exit the European stage, especially with his place in history still uncertain. Brazilian football may still see him get back into the national team and sign off with a bang under home lights in 2014, but that is a long time away, and time is uncertain. If Ronaldinho wishes to grab hold of his career and attempt to steer it in the right path one last time (which, at 30, he really has no reason not to!) Ronaldinho must stick to Europe, and the best option for him lies in England. With Blackburn the ones to show outright interest in the player, it would be interesting to see if Ronaldinho and his agent bite.
Who knows, at eight million Euros, the midfielder might also lure a certain Alex Ferguson, going through a bit of a crisis with his wingers at the moment, into a bid, if nothing more than a loan deal.