'Advantage' Milan in the race to capture Ronaldinho

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The Independent Football

Milan "have an advantage" over their city rivals Internazionale in the negotiations to sign Barcelona star Ronaldinho, according to the player's agent and brother, Roberto de Assis.

The Rossoneri made their interest in the Brazilian known at the beginning of April when both coach Carlo Ancelotti and club president Silvio Berlusconi announced their intention to bring him to San Siro at the end of the season.

More recently neighbours Inter have joined the hunt, with their president Massimo Moratti warning on Sunday, "If the market is open to Milan, it is open to us too."

Speaking to French television station Canal+ yesterday, De Assis reiterated no deal had yet been done between Milan and Barcelona, but said the Rossoneri remain in the driving seat for any possible deal.

"Milan are enthusiastic about the signing of Ronaldinho," he said. "People are a lot more together on where we stand for next season, but that's not to say the deal is done. At the moment we [Ronaldinho and De Assis] have a contract with Barça and we can't say the move is definite. But Milan have an advantage."

Whichever Milan club he chooses, it now seems highly likely that Ronaldinho will leave the Nou Camp at the end of a season in which he has struggled for fitness and to recapture his previously scintillating form.

When asked if his brother was happy at Barça, De Assis replied: "There's respect. I'm not saying there's happiness, but there's respect. It is not only a bad season for Ronaldinho, but for all the team. It isn't a nice situation, but that's how it is."