Flamengo attempt to woo Ronaldo during Brazilian visit

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The Independent Online

Flamengo, five times Brazilian champions, are in talks with Milan about acquiring the striker Ronaldo. The Brazilian club's vice-president, Kleber Leite, said Milan directors have authorised his side to approach Ronaldo, who is in Brazil on vacation and to treat an injury.

"This is not a marketing manoeuvre," Leite said in yesterday's O Globo newspaper. "It's a negotiation I've been conducting for the past three days. I've talked twice to [the Milan official] Leonardo and Ronaldo."

Leite added both parties appeared interested in a deal, but stressed that nothing had been agreed yet. "These talks were conceptual only," he said. "We haven't talked about salaries or transfer fees. We just started to negotiate."

Leite admitted Flamengo could not match Ronaldo's European salary, and said both parties would need "to adjust the difference between both markets".

Working in Leite's favour is the fact that Ronaldo, 31, previously said he wanted to play for Flamengo sometime in his career. His contract with Milan ends next June, but injuries have limited his playing time since he signed in January.

The Flamengo club doctor, Jose Luiz Runco, who recently examined Ronaldo, said the player's recent injuries were not serious enough to hinder a transfer, Leite said.

Leonardo, the former Flamengo player who now works behind the scenes for Milan, confirmed to local media that he had talked to Leite, but said he did not expect to finalise a deal soon.

Ronaldo, who twice won Fifa's Player of the Year award, led Brazil to the 2002 World Cup in South Korea and Japan, and was also in the Brazil squad that won the 1994 title in the United States and played in the defeat against France in the 1998 final.

Flamengo, Brazil's most popular club, won seven of their last nine matches this season to finish third in the Brazilian league, earning a spot in next year's Copa Libertadores.

The club earlier this month acquired Paraguay midfielder Diego Gavilan, the former Newcastle and Udinese player who was playing for another Brazilian side, Gremio.

Next season, Flamengo will also have the former Manchester United midfielder Kleberson, who played alongside Ronaldo in the 2002 World Cup.

In the Netherlands yesterday, meanwhile, Roy Makaay struck twice to inspire Feyenoord to a 2-0 derby victory over Sparta Rotterdam that lifted them over PSV Eindhoven into first place in the Dutch league.

Feyenoord are top with 35 points from 16 matches, two points above PSV who lost 2-1 at Groningen. Ajax, third on 31 points, host Twente Enschede tonight. Groningen are fourth with 30 points after 17 matches.

Makaay intercepted a pass from Nourdin Boukhari after four minutes to open the scoring and settled the match from close range from a pass by Andwele Slory with 16 minutes remaining.

The Brazilian full-back Alcides put PSV ahead after 21 minutes but Rasmus Lindgren equalised on the hour with a well-placed shot. Lindgren combined with Marcus Berg 12 minutes from time and Berg tricked his marker and beat goalkeeper Gomes at the back post to seal the victory.

Leon Kantelberg and Sandro Calabro scored in the final 20 minutes for VVV Venlo to salvage a point at NEC Nijmegen, after Tim Janssen had scored twice. VVV remain 13th with 16 points, three more then Nijmegen, after 17 matches. Sparta are 15th with 12 points.

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