Ronaldinho in talks to join Palmeiras
SAO PAULO -- Ronaldinho could be headed to Palmeiras, and the Brazilian club is hoping to make the deal official on Tuesday as part of its centennial celebrations.
The 34-year-old Ronaldinho has been without a club since leaving Atletico Mineiro in July, and talks are 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 team with the most national titles, is celebrating its 100th anniversary on Tuesday.
This is the third time that Palmeiras has been negotiating 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 rumors that the player would join Besiktas in Turkey and Boca Juniors in Argentina.
Ronaldinho reportedly didn't accept Palmeiras' initial offer -- the club recently installed a salary cap to contain costs -- but the club said that negotiations have advanced and a deal was close. Ronaldinho would 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, when Ronaldinho could be an important attraction.
Ronaldinho was Brazil's starter in the 2002 and 2006 World Cups, but was left out of the tournament in 2010 and 2014.