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50-50: Liverpool vs. Real Madrid

Champions League 1 day ago
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By ESPN Staff
May 19, 2008

Ronaldinho needs to leave Barca - Laporta

MADRID, May 19 (Reuters) - Barcelona president Joan Laporta has recognised that former World Player of the Year Ronaldinho needs to leave the club if he is to revive his career.

'He (Ronaldinho) needs a new challenge. When a cycle finishes it is normal that the most emblematic pieces also come to an end,' Laporta told Catalan television station TV3 on Sunday night.

'I would like Ronaldinho to be given a great send-off so that he is remembered for all he has given us and that if he didn't do any more it was because the circumstances wouldn't allow it.'

Laporta admitted that the club might find it difficult to sell the 28-year-old Brazilian, who suffered a series of injury and fitness problems this season and made the starting line-up in just 13 of the club's 38 league matches.

Ronaldinho last played for Barcelona in the 2-1 loss at home to Villarreal on March 9, but began complaining of muscle pain in his right leg soon afterwards and has been out of action ever since.

AC Milan expressed their interest in signing Ronaldinho and the player's brother Robert De Assis said they had reached an agreement over personal terms.

But the Serie A club later said they had been unable to agree a fee with Barcelona.

Ronaldinho joined Barcelona in 2003, immediately reviving the morale of a club that had not won a major trophy since 1999. He helped Barca win back-to-back league titles in 2005 and 2006 and the Champions League.

Laporta also said the club had decided to reject the possibility of appointing Jose Mourinho as coach and opted for former player Pep Guardiola as Frank Rijkaard's replacement because the ex-Chelsea coach would not have suited Barcelona.

'We decided that if Frank did not continue then we would choose Guardiola because Pep possessed the necessary humility,' said Laporta.

'We didn't think about coaches like Mourinho or (Rafa) Benitez, who are both great coaches, but they aren't right for Barcelona. So we told Rijkaard that when he left Guardiola would take his place.'

Laporta denied that former player and coach Johan Cruyff had vetoed Mourinho's appointment, but admitted that he had given his opinion about the Portuguese.

'They are private conversations between him and me and I'm not going to reveal them. What I can say is that Cruyff is a fervent supporter of Pep.'

Barcelona have not won any silverware for the past two seasons. They finished third in the Primera Liga this season, 10 points behind Villarreal and 18 adrift of champions Real Madrid.

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