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Page last updated at 13:36 GMT, Monday, 19 May 2008 14:36 UK

Ronaldinho cleared for Barca exit

Ronaldinho
Ronaldinho signed for Barcelona from PSG in July 2003

Barcelona president Joan Laporta believes it may be time for Brazil playmaker Ronaldinho to leave the club.

The 28-year-old has had a problematic campaign in which he has started only 20 games and has been linked with AC Milan, Inter Milan and Manchester City.

He has not played since 9 March because of a leg problem and Laporta told television station TV3: "We've told him that he needs new challenges.

"When you finish an era it's normal that the leading figures should leave."

Laporta said the club considered selling Ronaldinho in the summer of 2007 but decided not to after discussions with manager Frank Rijkaard and the player.

606: DEBATE

But Barcelona finished third in La Liga this season and were knocked out of the Champions League at the semi-final stage during a trophyless campaign.

Laporta is now instigating major changes and has already ended Rijkaard's reign, with the Dutchman being replaced by Pep Guardiola for next season.

Rijkaard and Ronaldinho, who both joined Barca in 2003, helped the club clinch the league title in 2005 - the first since 1999 - and then the Champions League and la Liga double the following year.

Laporta added: "I very much hope that Ronaldinho can leave as Frank Rijkaard has done, with his head held high, and that we can remember him as the man who gave us two League titles and one Champions League title.

"I am very grateful to Ronaldinho."

Mourinho not coming is not a decision taken by Cruyff

Barca president Joan Laporta

Barcelona striker Samuel Eto'o has also been linked to a move away from the Nou Camp and Inter Milan and Tottenham appear keen on the Cameroon international.

Laporta stated: "Eto'o is a player who is loyal to the colours, who sacrifices himself, who people like.

"The day he goes he deserves a big send-off and to leave with full honours."

Meanwhile, Laporta denied the club took the decision not to go for Jose Mourinho as manager on the advice of Barcelona legend Johan Cruyff.

"Mourinho not coming is not a decision taken by Cruyff," insisted Laporta.

"I asked him what he thought, as I ask lots of people. In this case, Cruyff is very much in favour of Pep Guardiola."




see also
Eto'o set for Barcelona exit
19 May 08 |  African
Ronaldinho move to Milan in doubt
21 Apr 08 |  Football
Inter join chase for Ronaldinho
13 Apr 08 |  Europe


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