Overmars under the spell of Ronaldinho

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The Independent Football

Marc Overmars believes Ronaldinho's decision to snub Manchester United in favour of Barcelona will prove to be a wise one. The Brazilian Ronaldinho has already made a huge impact since his £18m switch from Paris Saint-Germain a fortnight ago, scoring one and making one in the Catalan side's victory over Milan in Washington on Wednesday.

However, the real test will come here tonight, when Ronaldinho faces the team he turned his back on in front of a sell-out crowd at Financial Field, Philadelphia. Sir Alex Ferguson is known to be dismayed at the way the protracted transfer saga eventually ended, although you would never have guessed by his team's performances. Three straight wins on their US tour, including the 4-1 hammering of Juventus in Giants Stadium on Thursday, has put them in confident mood and probably reminded Ronaldinho of what he is missing.

But Overmars, a title winner in England with Arsenal, is confident that, given time, the Brazilian will feel he has made the right choice. "Brazilian players want to get the ball and try to change the game," said the Dutch international. "In our team, Ronaldinho can get that midfield role and do those things. I would say our team suits him better. Hopefully he will be able to open up a few holes for myself and Patrick Kluivert, and we will see the rewards."

Having scraped into the Uefa Cup only on the final day of the Spanish season, the Catalan club know there can be no repeat, and have drafted in Frank Rijkaard as coach in a bid to solidify a rearguard who failed to lay a platform for flair players such as Kluivert. Happily, the Dutchman has been restored after a contractual stand-off which at one stage looked set to end with Kluivert moving to England.

Then Kluivert hit the headlines again when he was denied entry to the United States after failing to fill out a visa form notifying the US authorities of a previous criminal conviction. His position as darling of the Dutch forward line is now under threat from Ruud van Nistelrooy, whose 80 goals in two seasons at Old Trafford have earned him comparisons with the legendary Marco van Basten. Van Nistelrooy has found the net in all three United tour games so far.

"He has the nose of a killer in front of goal," said Overmars. "What he has done doesn't surprise me one bit. From the moment he went to Manchester from PSV I thought he was capable of getting right up there with the best strikers in the world. He might have developed his all-round game, but there is no doubt in my mind he is a natural goalscorer.

"People have always tried to compare him with Van Basten, and hopefully he will prove his abilities by making his mark on next year's European Championships. Then we will all be happy."

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