ROME, Jan 30 - Brazil striker Ronaldo finally signed for AC Milan on
Tuesday, returning to Italy after a mixed spell at Real Madrid where he went
from Galactico to forgotten man.
The 30-year-old former Inter Milan forward, three-times FIFA
World Player of the Year, has signed an 18-month contract until June 30, 2008,
the Serie A club announced.
Milan are paying 7.5 million euros ($9.7 million) for the Brazilian up front
and an extra 0.5 million if they qualify for the Champions League this season or
next, the Italian club's vice-president Adriano Galliani said.
"It is a very satisfactory agreement for a top-class player," Galliani told
reporters at the Bernabeu in Madrid where Ronaldo signed his new deal.
"I'll be delighted to pay the full eight million because it will mean Milan
have qualified for the Champions League."
Ronaldo's exit effectively brings the curtain down on the Galactico era at
Real following the departures of Luis Figo and Zinedine Zidane and David
Beckham's decision to sign for Los Angeles Galaxy.
Despite scoring 104 goals since joining Real in August 2002, Ronaldo won only
one major title -- the Spanish league in 2003.
He complained he felt unloved by the fans and cut an increasingly isolated
figure after the departure of his chief ally, former president Florentino Perez,
The appointment of new coach Fabio Capello, a man who embodies the antithesis
of Ronaldo's happy-go-lucky vision of attack-minded football, sealed his fate.
When the Italian criticised Ronaldo for being overweight and said he would
play no part in his plans, the striker began to angle for a transfer and he
finally signed for Milan after weeks of negotiations.
Capello said he hoped Ronaldo's career would lift off again in Milan.
"I wish him the best of luck in doing what he used to do which is being a
great player," he told Italian regional TV station Telelombardia.
Ronaldo made reference to the deterioration of his relationship with the
Italian coach as he left the Bernabeu on his way to the airport.
"I would like to thank the fans who've supported me all the time and thank
all the team mates that I've had here and all the coaches I've had -- except
one," he said.
"It's sad because I've been here four-and-a-half years, but now I've got
another important challenge in my life and that is to succeed in Milan.
"It breaks your heart, but that's life. It is a shame.
"I never had any problems with the coach, but he didn't want me and as I'm a
professional I wanted to carry on playing and so we looked for another