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Will Ronaldinho join Chelsea?
August 28, 2007
Is Ronaldinho [Images] heading for Stamford Bridge?
The rumour mills have been kept busy with speculation that Chelsea owner Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich might swoop down on Barcelona's Brazilian playmaker with just days left for the transfer window to shut down.
A report in the British newspaper the Daily Mirror said Abramovich held talks with the Brazilian's brother and agent Roberto de Assis Moreira in London [Images] last weekend.
For Abramovich, winning the Champions League, Europe's ultimate prize in club football, is the utmost priority and he is ready to pay whatever price it takes to achieve this honour.
In the four years since he took over the club, Chelsea has won five major trophies -- more than any other English club in the same period -- but the Champions League trophy has stayed out of reach.
Ronaldinho's �85 million buy-out clause in his contract with Barcelona may not be much of a hurdle for a man who controls nearly all of Russia's [Images] oil industry.
Chelsea will get another opportunity to press its claim when Chief Executive Peter Kenyon meets Barcelona President Joan Laporta at the Champions League draw in Monaco on Thursday.
Though Barcelona deny that Ronaldinho is for sale, there are rumours that the Brazilian is unhappy at the Nou Camp.
The 27-year-old Brazilian has helped transform Barcelona since joining the Spanish superteam from French side Paris St Germain for �21m in 2003.
Barcelona rejected a formal �50 million bid from Chelsea three years ago and have made it clear they would do the same if another bid is made.
'We do not want to sell him. Ronaldinho is our player and I am totally convinced that he will remain at the club. In this aspect the decision of Barcelona is clear. It is normal that any of the big clubs in the world desires Ronaldinho, but he has signed a deal with us,' Barcelona's Sporting Director Txiki Berguiristain said, reacting to the rumours.
It would be interesting to know what Ronaldinho thinks of all the speculation.
Three years ago, the star hinted he could be open to a move to Chelsea in the future.
'Any great player would want to be part of such a sensational team. What they are doing is amazing. It is a place where great things are going to happen. I respect them a lot and can maybe see myself in London one day,' he was reported as saying.
He was granted granted dual nationality on Monday after five years living in Spain, but the subsequent increase in his income tax rate to 43 per cent as a result of losing his overseas status has not impressed him or his brother.
Whether it is for the money, the challenge to prove himself in the EPL, Ronaldinho's transfer to Chelsea, if it happens, could be one of the biggest moves in the history of European club football.
Photographs: Getty Images | Image: Uday Kuckian