Blackburn Rovers are pursuing an audacious attempt to sign Ronaldinho, twice the World Player of the Year, from Milan, although the Brazilian is believed to favour a return to his homeland.
Venky's, the poultry firm which completed its £43m takeover of Blackburn in November, has offered £6.2m for the 30-year-old, who was not selected for Brazil's squad for last year's World Cup finals.
Rovers are understood to be offering the former Barcelona star, the World Player of the Year in 2004 and 2005, a two-and-a-half-year deal worth around £130,000 a week.
Their interest in Ronaldinho, who has six months to run on his current contract, became public knowledge when the company issued a statement on its own Twitter and Facebook pages. Venky's director Venkatesh Rao then rubbished the story, telling the Lancashire Telegraph: "That is not true. There is no interest at all, they are just rumours."
However, by yesterday evening the club were privately admitting they had made a bid for the player, whose agent and brother Roberto de Assis said: "Blackburn have contacted us. There is also other interest in England but this is confidential."
Ronaldinho was yesterday in Brazil speaking with Gremio, the club where he began his career in 1998, having left Milan's winter training camp in Dubai to sort out his future. Other Brazilian clubs interested include Flamengo and Palmeiras. Another of Ronaldinho's former clubs, Paris St-Germain, is also believed to be interested.
Assis said: "Nothing is decided yet. Everything depends on how these negotiations go. If we don't reach an agreement with a club in Brazil then he will return to Milan, as he is still a Milan player."
Ronaldinho has not started a game under coach Massimo Allegri since mid-October, squeezed out of the team by summer signings Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Robinho.
Blackburn's new owners are intent on spending some of their millions this month. Rao said yesterday: "We are still finalising possible signings but, hopefully, we can come out into the press and make things clearer in a week.
"Money is not the criteria at all, though, we do not mind about the money. It is about getting the right players for Blackburn Rovers and we have enough money to do that."