I've been doing some research about Ronaldinho's professional career in soccer, since his early beginnings in Brazil, up until now with FC Barcelona. I would like to share with you his chronological history, with his participations in the soccer teams where he has made a terrific history. This is a briefing, mainly just for a quick review.
The Gremio years
Ronaldinho's career began in the youth team Gremio from Porto Alegre. Do you know who was his coach in Gremio?. Well, his coach was Luiz Felipe Scolari, who would some years later coach the Brazilian national team to win in the 2002 World Cup. His first senior appearance was in the 1998 Libertadores Cup, and his ability for goalscoring was quickly displayed, his career soon generating interest due to his phenomenal ball control and ability to score. This was followed by his introduction into the Brazilian national team in 1999.
Towards the end of his career at Gremio, in 2001, many clubs from all over the world, particularly teams from the Premier Soccer League in England, were eager to sign him as an attempt to attain a player who was both a "big name" and was also performing well. Despite several generous bids from Premiership teams (who would not have been able to sign him due to work permit restrictions) and several requests from Gremio, Ronaldinho signed a five-year contract with PSG, a popular French soccer team, to which he moved at the beginning of the following season.
In 2001 Ronaldinho left Gremio to play European soccer. Despite bids from much larger clubs, he opted to play for PSG. During his time at PSG, the manager, Luis Fernandez, claimed that Ronaldinho was too focused on the Parisian nightlife rather than on his soccer, and complained that his holidays in Brazil would always drag on and never end at the scheduled times.
After the 2002 World Cup, having shown his worth on the international scene, there was no shortage of interest from bigger clubs. In 2003, Ronaldinho made it clear he wanted to leave PSG after they failed to qualify for any European competitions. Ronaldinho's desire to leave set off a bidding war among the top European clubs (Manchester United and FC Barcelona the notable examples) for his services. The club that ended up winning the battle for his services was FC Barcelona.
The Barcelona years
Ronaldinho in 2004.
On July 19, 2003, FC Barcelona acquired Ronaldinho for about 30 million US$. Originally, Barcelona was trying to bring David Beckham to the club, but following his transfer to Real Madrid, Barcelona entered the running for Ronaldinho and beat Manchester United to his signature. It was thought that a failure on the part of the English and French clubs to agree on a fee was the reason Manchester United's deal fell through. Ronaldinho is also said to have signed with Barcelona instead of Manchester United because of his friendship with former Nike executive in Brazil and Barcelona's then vice-president in charge of sports, someone by the name of Sandro Rosell. Ronaldinho's signing with Barcelona follows in the footsteps of a number of other famous brazilian soccer players with the club, including Romario, Ronaldo and Rivaldo.
Barcelona quickly showcased the talents of their new striker in an exhibition match against AC Milan. The match took place in front of a crowd of 45,000 in Washington, D.C. Barcelona had a 1-0 lead through most of the first half, and they increased their lead to 2-0 when Ronaldinho scored in the 51st minute. Having received a short pass from Xavi, Ronaldinho fired a shot that spun around Fernando Redondo and into the net, landing him his first goal for the club.
After returning from injury in the first half of the campaign, Ronaldinho continued to justify his price tag by leading Barcelona to a second-place finish in Spanish soccer championship La Liga during the 2003/04 season. Along with several other great players like Samuel Eto'o, Deco, Xavi, Ludovic Giuly and Henrik Larsson, Ronaldinho comprises part of a strike force which helped bring the 2004/05 La Liga title for FC Barcelona. On December 20, 2004, Ronaldinho was named FIFA World Player of the Year ahead of Arsenal's Thierry Henry and AC Milan's Andriy Shevchenko. It was then that Barcelona rejected a US$ 114 million bid made for him by Chelsea F.C., according to Sandro Rosell.
In March 2005, Barcelona were knocked out of the Champions League by Chelsea in the first knockout round. Ronaldinho scored a penalty kick and an impressive solo goal in the 4-2 loss at Stamford Bridge.
In June 2005, Rosell resigned from the Barcelona administration following a bust-up with Joan Laporta, and it was feared that his resignation would spell the end for Ronaldinho and Barcelona's association as well. With Ronaldinho's contract running only into 2008, he was offered a contract until 2014 that would net him US$ 160 million over those 9 years, which he rejected. Later that year in September, he signed a two-year extension of his original contract on with FC Barcelona. The new contract contains a minimum fee release clause that allows him to leave should a club make an offer to Barcelona of at least US$ 160 million for him.
On November 19, 2005, he scored two solo goals to help FC Barcelona to a 3–0 win over arch-rivals Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabéu in Madrid. After he scored his second goal of the night, his team's third, a large part of the Madrid faithful gave him a standing ovation, a rare feat which had not occurred since Diego Maradona played for Barcelona in 1985. By the way, I remember very well this particular game against Real Madrid, I think it has been one of the best games and performances Ronaldinho has ever had in his career. All the soccer world was watching that game, all eyes were in Ronaldinho, and what a performance he made!
In September 2005, Ronaldinho was crowned FifPro Player of the year, an award voted for by his fellow professionals. He was also named in the FifPro team of the year alongside the likes of Zidane and Maldini. In November 2005 Ronaldinho was named as both the European Footballer of the Year and the best striker in the 2004-05 Champions League. In 2005, Ronaldinho became the third Brazilian to win the Ballon d'Or. On December 19, 2005, he was again named FIFA World Player of the Year with 956 points, more than three times the 306 points of Chelsea's Frank Lampard, who finished second in the poll, and the 190 points of Barcelona teammate Samuel Eto'o who finished third. He was chosen for the UEFA team of 2005 for the third time running in January 2006.
Ronaldinho celebrating the victory in 2005/2006 La Liga
On March 7, 2006, in the 2nd leg of the Champions League first knockout round at Nou Camp, Ronaldinho avenged Barcelona's defeat to Chelsea in the same competition the previous year, running past the Chelsea defence to score. Although the game ended 1-1, Barcelona progressed to the Champions League quarterfinal, in which they beat SL Benfica 2-0 at Nou Camp (Ronaldinho having scored the first goal by a penalty kick) after a 0-0 draw at the Estádio da Luz in Lisboa. In the first semi-final leg, against AC Milan in San Siro stadium, Ronaldinho once again proved his worth with a superb pass for the goal volleyed in by Ludovic Giuly, which brought Barcelona a 1-0 victory. The second leg game ended in a goalless draw despite a disallowed goal from Andriy Shevchenko in the 70th minute. The 0-0 result with AC Milan brought Barcelona to the 2006 Champions League Final in Paris against Arsenal F.C., who had not conceded a goal in ten Champions League matches, a competition record.
On May 3, 2006, Barcelona were crowned 2005/2006 La Liga champions after they beat Celta Vigo 1-0.
On May 17, 2006, Barcelona became European champions after defeating Arsenal 2-1 in the Champions League final. In this match Ronaldinho was kept relatively subdued and the goals came from Samuel Eto'o and Juliano Belletti, who were both assisted by Henrik Larsson. Ronaldinho finished the season with 25 goals in all competitions, his best goalscoring tally ever. It was rumoured on the 3rd of August, just a few days ago, that Ronaldinho might move to AC Milan, but Ronaldinho denied it.
It seems we will watch Ronaldinho playing with FC Barcelona over the next few years. However, you never know what could happen, everything is possible in this soccer world.
Well, I hope you could enjoy this quick overview of Ronaldinho's career, at least so far. I'm sure we will have to update this history in the next few years with more championships and great moments.