Football: Ronaldo's pounds 25m deal

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The Independent Online
Ronaldo, the latest Brazilian sensation, is set to sign a 10-year contract with Barcelona that will earn him pounds 25m, making him the highest paid player in the world.

Manchester United and Milan have reportedly shown interest in signing the 20-year-old striker, but, according to newspaper reports in Spain yesterday, Ronaldo's spectacular new contract will contain a clause that will deter any potential bidder. The clause states that Ronaldo, seen as potentially Brazil's greatest player since Pele, can only leave the Nou Camp if the interested club comes up with a mere pounds 50m for the fee.

"The business is closed," said Barcelona's vice-president, Joan Gaspart, who refused to discuss the terms of the deal.

Ronaldo, who came under Bobby Robson's wing at Barcelona after moving from the Dutch club PSV Eindhoven for pounds 12.5m last year, will see his wages jump pounds 1.6m to pounds 2.5m a year. A World Cup winner in 1994, even though he did not play a game, Ronaldo can also expect to collect another pounds 2m a year in product endorsements.

Ronaldo finished his last season in the Netherlands as top scorer, and is currently joint top in Spain with 13 league goals, although he could not prevent his side losing their grudge match away to Real Madrid last weekend.

Fifa, world football's governing body, has confirmed a record 120 national team coaches have voted for their top three players in the 1996 Player of the Year poll with Newcastle's Alan Shearer, Ronaldo and Milan's George Weah heading the list. The winner of the world game's premier individual prize, which Weah won last year, will be announcement in Lisbon on 20 January.

Shearer's goals for England during Euro 96 and his world record-breaking move to St James' Park thrust him into the international spotlight. Weah, who will collect Fifa's Fair Play prize for helping to keep Liberia in the World Cup despite the internecine fighting in the country, helped guide Milan to the Italian league title.