Ronaldinho for Johor?

Ronaldinho for Johor?
RONALDINHO: Just completed a nine-game stint with Fluminense.
PHOTO: Reuters

He played nine games for Brazilian giants Fluminense but failed to net even a single goal - the first time in his 18-year professional football career.

No one was surprised when two-time World Player of the Year Ronaldinho left the club last month, but eyebrows will be raised over speculation the Brazilian star could be headed to the Malaysian Super League.

The 35-year-old, who won the World Cup with Brazil in 2002, recently dismissed talk of retirement and, last week, his brother and agent Roberto Assis told Swiss daily Blick: "We are considering offers from Malaysia and Switzerland."

Sources have told The New Paper that the two possible Malaysian destinations are MSL champions Johor Darul Ta'zim I and Pahang.

JDT I are eyeing a big name as one of their current foreign stars, Luciano Figueroa, is set to retire.

Pahang are also set to shake things up after keeping with largely the same slate of imports for two years.

While Ronaldinho is well past his prime at the highest level, both teams may find his touch, vision, marketability and crowd-pulling abilities appealing.

However, the biggest stumbling block is his wage demands, which sources claim is around RM45 million ($14.6m) a year.

Putting that in perspective, the amount is more than the $10m annual budget of the Football Association of Singapore.

However, clubs like JDT I and Pahang have huge financial muscle as both teams are backed by Malaysian royalty.

In a recent statement on JDT's official website, the Southern Tigers' royal patron Tunku Ismail Ibrahim wrote: "By 2017-2018, JDT will improve the club's budget to RM150-200 million, thanks to the generosity of HM Sultan Ibrahim and our club's sponsors and members."

Previously, the Johor Crown Prince had indicated his interest in Atletico Madrid striker Fernando Torres, who he wants to sign for next season.

"Asia is the new football destination, with the big names currently playing in China, India and Australia," he said then.

"With good marketing strategies, as well as playing in the Asian Champions League annually, we will be able to get them to play for JDT."

Other big names reportedly on their radar include Sevilla's Fernando Llorente, Besiktas' Mario Gomez and River Plate's Javier Saviola.

TNP understands that they could also go for the tried-and-tested option of Brazilian hotshot Paulo Rangel, who has scored more than 50 goals with Perak, Selangor and Terengganu in three seasons.

JDT are no strangers to marquee signings, having splashed the cash on Euro 2008 winner, Spaniard Daniel Guiza and Under-20 World Cup winner, Argentinian Pablo Aimar.


This article was first published on October 22, 2015.
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