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City leading race to sign Ronaldinho

July 14, 2008 20:43 IST

Manchester City are leading the race to sign Brazil [Images] forward Ronaldinho [Images] from Barcelona, the Spanish Primera Liga club's president Joan Laporta said on Monday.

Ronaldinho and his representative are expected in Barcelona on Monday to hold talks over the player's future, with AC Milan and City the two clubs known to have shown an interest.

Spanish media have reported an offer of 32 million euros ($50.27 million), plus variables, is on the table from the English Premier League club.

"[Ronaldinho and his agent] have two interesting proposals and they are leaning more towards the one from Manchester City," Laporta told Catalunya Radio.

"We hope to be able to resolve the situation this week."

Milan's chief executive Adriano Galliani has flown into Barcelona to try and sign the Brazilian for the Serie A club.

Ronaldinho, 28, was not present on Monday morning to start pre-season fitness tests under new coach Pep Guardiola, and it is not known whether he or his brother and agent Roberto de Assis would be arriving in the afternoon for talks with the club over his future.

Barcelona had said they had expected Ronaldinho to turn up to begin the season on Monday despite Guardiola having announced that the playmaker was surplus to requirements.

The Catalan side had also said they were not prepared to release Ronaldinho to join Dunga's Brazil squad for next month's Beijing [Images] Olympics [Images]. Dunga has included him as an over-age player.

Ronaldinho, who shone when Barca won back-to-back league titles and the European Cup in 2006, suffered fitness and injury problems last season, dropping out of first-team contention.

As part of their move to galvanise the team ahead of next season, after two years without silverware, Barcelona have made it clear the former World Player of the Year is not wanted but have found it difficult to off-load him.

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