New Milan star Ronaldinho received a celebratory welcome on arrival at the Italian city. The former Barcelona player has been transferred for around 21 million euros, after Barca's new boss said the Brazilian was no longer in the club's plans.
Ronaldinho put a year of troubles behind him on Wednesday when he breezed into AC Milan's training ground to be greeted by around 4,000 screaming fans.
Barcelona agreed late on Tuesday to sell the Brazil forward for an initial fee of 21 million euros ($33.5 million) following two days of talks with Milan chief executive Adriano Galliani, who had been chasing the 28-year-old for three months.
Milan beat off competition from Manchester City, who offered substantially more money.
"I am very happy, after so much time I am here. I am really pleased to come to Milan and I hope I will be able to give a lot of happiness to everybody," he told Milan's television channel.
"I really wanted to come to Milan. I'm very happy to find many Brazilians here but also many champions who wear the Milan jersey."
He was even happier when Milan confirmed he will be allowed to go to the Beijing Olympic Games to play for Brazil, who meet Belgium in their opening Group C match on Aug. 7.
Barca had blocked his call-up before selling him and Milan stopped compatriot Kaka from going, but they felt it was only right to let their new recruit head to China.
"We respect the commitment he took before coming to Milan. If he had already been a Rossoneri he would not have gone but he will become ours during the week so we will let him go to the Olympics," Galliani told a news conference.
Ronaldinho will have a medical and sign a three-year deal in the next couple of days before being presented to the media.
The formalities were due to be completed on Wednesday, when the squad gathered for the first day of pre-season, but the hordes of Milan fans at the airport and the Milanello training ground meant there was a delay.
The Brazilian could barely have expected the fanfare that welcomed him following a difficult last season at the Nou Camp where he suffered form and fitness problems.
Rossoneri supporters hope the FIFA World Player of the Year for 2004 and 2005 can reignite their fortunes after suffering a nightmare season of their own.
Milan lost their Champions League crown after falling to Arsenal in the last 16, then finished fifth in Serie A and only qualified for the UEFA Cup next season.
Galliani said the 2002 World Cup winner's arrival would be the last at Milan during this transfer window, ending their interest in Arsenal's Emmanuel Adebayor and Chelsea pair Didier Drogba and Andriy Shevchenko.
Ronaldinho is likely to play in a Christmas tree formation alongside Kaka with a main striker ahead of them.
However, his chances of playing with fellow Brazilian Ronaldo look remote after the injured striker's Milan contract ran out at the start of the month. He is struggling to come back from a serious knee problem and is not expected to be offered a new deal.
Date created : 2008-07-17