Ronaldinho put in an appearance towards the end of talks between Manchester City and his representatives in Brazil at the weekend, but the City owner Thaksin Shinawatra's associates may remain there until tomorrow to continue complex negotiations around their initial salary offer to him of over £100,000 a week.
Reports of a £200,000-a-week salary are understood to be exaggerated but it is certainly conceivable that the Brazilian will become Britain's highest-paid player. Barcelona's asking price for a player they are quite willing to let go is not believed to be extortionate.
Talks that began in Porto Alegre on Saturday between Thaksin's chief of staff, Pairoj Piempongsant, a second Thaksin representative and the player's brother and agent and Roberto Assis continued throughout yesterday and will recommence today. One of the obstacles to overcome is likely to be the player's contractual obligations with Nike at Barcelona.
The City executive chairman, Garry Cook, is using contacts from his 12-year career at Nike to ensure that the player's move to a club not linked to the sponsor will not create a financial difficulty for him. "I'm still talking to the Nike guys about the implications of that and they've been very supportive," Cook said yesterday.
Ronaldinho's advisers have told City that his priority is to re-establish himself after a year of drift and in Cook's words "show the world again he's the world's greatest footballer".
City evidently hope – rather than expect – to have the player in place for the start of the season. Cook said the deal was "nowhere near complete" and that City had a "long, long list of things we need to get done" before it was concluded. He declared: "I would like to see Ronaldinho kick off the season and I'm maintaining a touch of hope on that one," Cook said.
With the club clearly willing to pay the player a substantial income, they are hopeful that any shortfall in wages will be topped up by sponsors.
City's new manager, Mark Hughes, has demonstrated his determination to dictate transfer policy by asking for several days to analyse the Brazilian striker Jo before City continue their pursuit of the £18m CSKA Moscow forward.
City have first refusal on the player, so the delay does not present a problem, but Hughes, who said when unveiled by City on Thursday that he had the final say on all signings, wants to take advice on the player and watch DVDs of him before the club go ahead with their purchase, which is likely to conclude within a week.
"We tried to slow that one down. We were moving very quickly and it was important to get Mark to have a strong point of view on what he wanted," said Cook, who established a clearer sense of Hughes' priorities when the two had dinner together on Saturday evening.
City anticipate that a work permit for Jo may well be rejected at first, although the club would be hopeful of securing it on appeal.Reuse content