The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION
Brazilian club Palmeiras says it has ended talks to sign former Brazil star Ronaldinho
SAO PAULO - Brazilian club Palmeiras says it could not reach an agreement with former World Cup veteran Ronaldinho, ending its hopes of signing the player as part of its centennial celebrations Tuesday.
The club said on its official Twitter page that "negotiations between Palmeiras and Ronaldinho" ended after "the parts failed to reach a financial agreement."
The 34-year-old Ronaldinho has been without a club since leaving Atletico Mineiro in July, and talks had been under way for him to sign with Palmeiras for the remainder of the Brazilian league season.
The two-time FIFA world player of the year has hinted he may join a Major League Soccer team in 2015, but until then his goal is to keep playing in Brazil.
Palmeiras, the Brazilian club with the most national titles, celebrated its 100th anniversary on Tuesday.
It was the third time that Palmeiras negotiated to sign Ronaldinho since the player returned to Brazil in 2011 after a successful career in Europe at clubs such as Barcelona and AC Milan.
Ronaldinho ended up joining Flamengo after his return, and a year later moved to Atletico Mineiro, which he led to its first Copa Libertadores title in 2013. That same year, Ronaldinho also helped the club win the traditional Minas Gerais state championship and the Recopa Sudamericana. He scored 28 goals in nearly 90 matches with the club.
Ronaldinho didn't clearly explain why he decided to end his stint with Atletico Mineiro. Local media said he was expected to join a club either in Asia or in the Arab world, but no deal was reached.
Ronaldinho's brother and agent, Roberto Assis, reportedly offered him to several Brazilian clubs in recent weeks, including Corinthians, Santos, Gremio and Fluminense, but all negotiations failed. There were also rumours that the player would join Besiktas in Turkey and Boca Juniors in Argentina.
Palmeiras officials said talks with Ronaldinho had advanced after the player didn't accept the club's initial offer, but the deal reportedly fell through because of disagreements on the benefits requested by the playmaker, including a high percentage of attendance money in matches he played.
Palmeiras recently became the first top Brazilian club to install a salary cap to contain costs, and president Paulo Nobre has always said the team will not pay high salaries anymore, no matter the player.
Had a deal been made, Ronaldinho was expected to wear the No. 100 in reference to the team's centennial.
The fourth most-popular club in Brazil, Palmeiras has won 10 national titles — eight Brazilian championships and two Brazilian Cups, the last in 2012 with coach Luiz Felipe Scolari. Palmeiras is considered the first Brazilian team to win a club world title, in 1951. It was the only team able to rival Santos in the 1960s, and its squad represented Brazil in a friendly against Uruguay in 1965.
Palmeiras was demoted to the second division in 2002 and 2012. It is near relegation zone again this year after struggling since taking a chance on Argentine coach Ricardo Gareca in May, but it won its first league match under his command on Saturday.
The team is led by former World Cup champion Lucio and Chilean playmaker Jorge Valdivia. Gareca has brought in several Argentine players since taking over the team, including defender Fernando Tobio and forwards Jonathan Cristaldo, Agustin Allione and Pablo Mouche.
Palmeiras is expected to inaugurate its new 45,000-capacity arena in Sao Paulo in the next few weeks.
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