The short-term deal gives the former FIFA World Player of the Year (2004 and 2005) a chance to play on as the clock ticks toward the 90th minute of his career. The club, located in the inland city of Belo Horizonte, will enjoy at least a few months in the spotlight.
Ronaldinho’s addition adds a bit of spectacle to a club that is so often overshadowed by the big guns from Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo. His acrimonious departure from Flamengo made headlines around the world, and his soft landing at Atletico Mineiro had the same effect. The modest club was rebuffed in its recent attempts to sign Diego Forlan and Juninho Pernambucano, but adding the former FC Barcelona and AC Milan star is not a bad fall-back option.
“I can’t talk about his salary,” club president Alexandre Kalil said. “But Atlético will be able to pay for it by itself, we won’t need the help of a partner. He is not just any player, he is Ronaldinho. I have a reputation as a madman but I am not mad enough to turn down the chance to sign Ronaldinho.”
Ronaldinho left Flamengo because the club could not afford to pay his $8.4 million salary without the help of a third party. Last week, he filed a lawsuit over unpaid wages, and walked away from the Rio de Janeiro giant.
Atletico Mineiro should have no problem paying the 2002 FIFA World Cup winner in a timely manner, and that is exactly what he wants at this point.
It seems like a win-win scenario for Ronaldinho and the club. At 32, the former superstar can only play for a few more years, and it seems he really wants to perform for the crowds in his homeland. Atletico Mineiro has won the national title just once, in 1971, and finished second in 1999. If ‘Dinho leads it to glory on the field, it will only add to what he has already brought to Belo Horizante off the field.