The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Ronaldinho completes formalities at Barcelona

Madrid: Brazilian World Cup-winning midfielder Ronaldinho has signed a five-year contract with Barcelona, the Spanish first division club announced on Sunday.

Media reports said Barcelona had agreed to pay Paris St Germain between 25 million euros ($28.03 million) and 30 million euros ($33.63 million) for Ronaldinho, who will be officially unveiled on Monday.

The Brazilian completed his move after passing a medical. “Ronaldinho has passed the tests satisfactorily, with a great attitude,” Barcelona medical chief Jordi Ardevol told the club’s website after the tests had been completed. “He is in excellent shape.”

Barcelona had to fight off competition from Manchester United and Real Madrid for the 23-year-old, who was an influential figure in Brazil’s World Cup triumph last year.

“We were always clear that Ronaldinho wanted to come to Barcelona and that’s why we worked so hard to sign him,” Barca vice-president Sandro Rosell told reporters at the Nou Camp.

In a hectic round of negotiations, Barcelona agreed a fee with Paris St Germain before inviting Roberto Assis, the player’s agent and brother, for talks at the club on Saturday. Ronaldinho later arrived from Brazil to sign the contract agreed by his brother and the deal was finally closed.

Rosell, a former Nike executive, enjoys a close relationship with Ronaldinho and the vice-president went to meet the player at the airport, escorting him through the crowds.

The player was clearly delighted with the reception he was given as he flashed his trademark smile and signed autographs for the fans on his way out.

He was then whisked away to the club’s offices to negotiate the terms of his contract and just a few hours later put pen to paper on a five-year deal to end the long-running chase for his signature.

Ronaldinho follows in the footsteps of Romario, Ronaldo and Rivaldo as the latest high-profile Brazilian to play for Barcelona.

The signing means club president Joan Laporta has made good on his promise to bring in at least one ‘crack’, the word used in Spain to describe a world-class player with a media profile to match.

Laporta was helped to victory in Barcelona’s recent presidential election by the news he had agreed a deal with Manchester United to sign David Beckham. The England captain opted instead to join Real Madrid and Laporta promised to redouble his efforts to sign Ronaldinho.

Manchester United seemed set to clinch Ronaldinho’s signing earlier this week when manager Alex Ferguson described the deal as “just about there”.

But, earlier on Saturday, United issued a statement on their official website, saying they would withdraw their final offer unless an agreement was reached by 1700 GMT.

Ronaldinho becomes the fifth signing of the Laporta era after Turkey goalkeeper Rustu Recber, Spanish midfielder Luis Garcia, Mexican centre-back Rafael Marquez and Portuguese winger Ricardo Quaresma.

Media euphoria

Barcelona’s success in signing the Paris Saint Germain striker against stiff opposition from rival bidders has been hailed by the Spanish press. “Here comes the star” was how the Catalan paper Sport summed up the 23-year-old’s transfer to the Nou Camp.

For AS Daily Ronaldinho’s transfer represented a major coup for Laporta following arch rival Real Madrid’s success in bringing in heavyweights like Luis Figo, Zinedine Zidane, Ronaldo and David Beckham.

“The president (Laporta) has succeeded in restoring confidence. He has put an end to all the knocks from Real Madrid - Figo-Zidane-Ronaldo-Beckham,” the paper wrote.

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