Ronaldinho's future to be decided in 72 hours

July 14, 2008

MADRID, July 14 (Reuters) - Barcelona and Brazil forward Ronaldinho have given themselves 72 hours to decide upon the player's future following a meeting at the Nou Camp on Monday, the Primera Liga club said.

Ronaldinho and his brother and agent Roberto de Assis flew into the city on Monday to hold talks with Barcelona, with AC Milan and Manchester City the two clubs competing for the player's services.

'The two parties have agreed to give themselves two or three days to close the transfer of the player to one of the clubs interested in landing the Brazilian,' Barca said in a statement on their website.

'If no agreement is reached over this period, the player will join up with the rest of the squad for training.' Earlier in the day, Spanish media reported an offer of 32 million euros ($50.27 million), plus variables, was on the table from the English Premier League club, which Barca president Joan Laporta confirmed in an interview.

'(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.'

Ronaldinho is reported by local media to prefer a move to Milan, though their offer is lower than City's.

Milan's chief executive Adriano Galliani also flew in to Barcelona on Monday to try and convince the Brazilian to join the Serie A side. A meeting between all three parties was reportedly due to be held later on Monday.

Ronaldinho, 28, missed the pre-season fitness tests that started on Monday morning under new coach Pep Guardiola, as he arrived in the afternoon for the meetings.

Barcelona had said they had expected Ronaldinho to turn up to begin the season with the rest of the squad 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 Olympics. 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.