MILAN BOSS PUTS HIS FAITH IN RONALDINHO
IT HAS been a frustrating summer for AC Milan fans, but the club’s owner is urging them to put their faith in the Brazilian footballing version of 100m rocket Usain Bolt for the coming season.
Silvio Berlusconi, who is also the Italian Prime Minister, believes that in former Barcelona ace Ronaldinho, the seven-time European champions have a man capable of wowing the world in the way that sprint world record holder Bolt has these last two years.
That is roughly the same period during which Ronadlinho has stopped shining like a star in the sky, but Berlusconi believes he could do so again.
Speaking following the Berlusconi Cup, in which Milan beat great rivals Juventus on penalties for only their second preseason success in 11 attempts – they lost eight of those matches – the Italy PM said the samba magician could bristle again.
“Our Usain Bolt is called Ronaldinho. He used to be the dream of all sportsmen the world over – and he can be again,” said Berlusconi, who was impressed with the Brazilian’s showing against Juventus on Monday.
“I liked what I saw. He played off the front men, in the heart of the action and on the edge of the penalty box, a vital positition that heralds many free kicks, penalties, magical assists and goals.”
Milan will need to produce something special from somewhere if they are to lift the doom and gloom from the red and black half of the San Siro.
During the off-season they lost former world player of the year Kaka to Real Madrid, talisman Paolo Maldini to retirement and saw David Beckham and Andrei Shevchenko leave following the end of their loan spells.
On top of that, Milan have not won Serie A since 2004, and finished 10 points behind champions and city rivals Inter Milan last season.
Their fans were hoping for a raft of marquee signings to boost their chances this campaign, but instead their only notable addition has been Dutch forward Klaas Jan Huntelaar from Real.
Centre-backs Oguchi Onyewu and Thiago Silva have joined, but neither will be expected to make the difference this season.
And Huntelaar, despite being a regular goalscorer, is no substitute for Kaka, but Berlusconi says fans should not lament those that are departed.
“Football was not invented by Kaka nor (Marco) Van Basten,” he said, referring to the disappointment many fans felt at the appointment of Leonardo as new Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti’s replacement, rather than the former Milan forward, a fans’ favourite.
“In football the stars, the saints and the heroes change; you shouldn’t feel nostalgic about anyone,” he added before closing the door on any further signings.
“It’s wedged shut, although there are several players who could be sold.”
With the incoming door closed, Milan need to find some- thing extra from within, which could explain Berlusconi’s attempts to boost the Brazilian’s morale. “We bought Ronaldinho because he’s number one in the world, no-one else has a player like him,” he added.
However, perhaps more significantly, Leonardo is not so sure about Ronaldinho’s ability to reproduce past glories.
“Ronaldinho is a player like all the others, available for selection like everyone else, but he has to step up to the plate, he’s a great talent,” said the coach.
“He’s putting the work in, but he’s still got to find some consistency. If you’re talking about the Ronaldinho of three or four years ago, he’s a long way away from that, but with respect to the last few years, he seems better to me.
“He’s done almost all the preparation work, he’s had a few good games (in pre-season). He’s still a player who can make the difference, though.” – Sapa-AFP