A bleary eyed La Liga Review - weary after an overnight journey back from Madrid and still trying to recover from covering an astonishing UEFA cup match - staggered in to the paper shop this morning expecting to be greeted by a clean sweep of front pages sharing the love for Getafe and championing their ten man heroics against Bayern Munich last night in the capital last night. Not so: not in Barcelona anyway.
El Mundo Deportivo leads with a full front page photo of Ronaldinho and the headline: Ronnie to Milan - Almost Done!"
SPORT, Barcelona's other football paper, agrees: "Ronaldinho -One foot in Milan."
According to both papers, Milan's representative for Spanish affairs, Ernesto Bronzetti, met with the Barça sporting director ,Txiki Begiristain, in a Barcelona hotel yesterday afternoon and effectively agreed a 30 million euros deal that will see Ronaldinho join the 'Rossoneri' in the summer.
It is claimed that the pair were later joined by the player's agent, and brother, Roberto de Assís with the aim of formalising the player's agreement in the transaction. Following the meeting in Barcelona, Bronzetti and Ronnie's brother flew to Milan on a private jet belonging to Silvio Berlusconi. Upon arrival in Italy they were greeted by the Milan vice-president, Adriano Galliani, and the trio sealed the deal over dinner in a Milanese restaurant.
After the meal, Galliani, is quoted as saying: "Ronaldinho and Schevchenko: 180% Milan"
SPORT sums up the situation as being one in which all parties have acheived their objectives. The paper writes: "The operation was practically finalised in Italy yesterday, and the matter will be made public and official once a few small matters have been finalised. The most important tissue has been resolve: all parties are in agreement and Ronaldinho's time at Barcelona is up; the club will received a more than adequate fee for a player who has already paid for himself; Milan and Berlusconi have given themselves a boost in a disappointing season and Ronnie will join a club with a strong Brazilian presence - led by Kaka.
Everything is in place for Ronaldinho to jump ship. For the first time, Barcelona have accepted the departure of their standard bearer for the clubs last period of success and that says it all about the climate at the club. It is a time of transition. A club source admitted yesterday that the club wants the issue over and done with and does not want the matter to drag out. With FC Barcelona engaged in a final struggle for the league and readying itself for a battle for the Champions League final, the club cannot afford for Ronaldinho to continue distracting everybody from the tasks that lay ahead."
On the subject of Barcelona being distracted, SPORT claims that senior directors at the club have demanded the immediate resignation of Xavier Sala Martin. This follows the revelations made by the man in the zebra skin jacket that there are players at the club who are ostracised from the rest of the squad, that they don't train or play as often as the rest because they are too busy partying. Worse still, he also claimed that the club does its best to cover it all up. Sala Martin, head of the FC Barcelona economic commission, told Catalunya Radio that these unnamed players: " do whatever in the hell they want. The club is complicit in the situation and tries to cover it all up by saying that the player is “injured.”
It would seem that a spring cleaning operation is underway at Barcelona as the club attempts to purge itself of the negative influences that have dogged them this season. Next up: Deco?