| Reds lose Ronaldinho race |
19/7/03 9:58 PM
Brazilian World Cup-winning midfielder Ronaldinho has signed a five-year contract with Barcelona, the Spanish first division club confirmed on their website on Saturday.
Ronaldinho will have a medical on Sunday before being officially unveiled on Monday.
Barca had earlier agreed a fee with his French club Paris St Germain.
"I can confirm we have signed an agreement with Barcelona for the transfer of Ronaldo Assis de Moreira, known as Ronaldinho, who will join the Catalan club for the next five seasons," PSG president Francis Graille told the French club's website.
Ronaldinho received a warm welcome at El Prat airport from Barca vice-president Sandro Rossell, who conducted the negotiations with Paris St Germain, when the Brazilian arrived on a flight from his homeland earlier on Saturday.
Rossell escorted the midfielder through the crowds and the player was clearly delighted with the reception he was given as he flashed his trademark smile and signed autographs for the fans on his way out of terminal B.
He was then whisked away to the club's offices to negotiate the terms of his contract and just a few hours later put pen to paper on a five-year deal to end the long-running chase for his signature that involved Manchester United and Real Madrid.
Ronaldinho follows in the footsteps of Romario, Ronaldo and Rivaldo as he becomes the latest high-profile Brazilian to play for Barcelona.
His arrival is a triumph for Barca president Joan Laporta, who faced stiff competition from English champions Manchester United for the talented midfielder.
Laporta was helped to victory in Barcelona's recent presidential election by the news that he had agreed a deal with Manchester United to sign David Beckham. The England captain opted instead to sign for Real Madrid and Laporta promised to redouble his efforts to sign Ronaldinho.
The signing means Laporta has made good on his promise to bring in at least one "crack" - the word used in Spain to describe a world-class player with a media profile to match.
Media reports said Barcelona had agreed to pay the French club between 25 million ($28.03 million) and 30 million euros ($33.63 million) for Ronaldinho, who was one of the most influential figures in Brazil's World Cup triumph last year.
The Brazilian becomes the fifth signing of the Laporta era as the new president has already signed Turkey goalkeeper Rustu Recber, Spanish midfielder Luis Garcia, Mexican centre-back Rafael Marquez and Portuguese winger Ricardo Quaresma.
Manchester United had appeared set to clinch Ronaldinho's signing earlier this week when manager Alex Ferguson described the deal as "just about there".
But earlier on Saturday United issued a statement on their official website regarding the negotiations. Click here to read the statement.
PSG's Graille acknowledged the appeal of an earlier offer from Real, under which Ronaldinho could have stayed with PSG for one more season before joining the Spanish champions.
"The alternative from Real Madrid, which was put forward orally but which never actually materialised, was a good option for us," Graille said.
"But given the current state of the market and the interests of our club, I think this was the best time for us to sell him all the same."
Report by Kevin Fylan, Reuters
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