Raising the bar
Prepare for sightings of
Ronaldinho's disappointing season may have reached a premature end following the muscle injury he suffered in training with FC Barcelona last week, but his brother has been busy, preparing the way for the almost inevitable transfer from Barcelona.
Last week, de Assis was spotted in Italy, meeting with AC Milan vice president
A few days later, de Assis was a guest of Manchester City at its Premiership game against Chelsea, leading to the inevitable speculation that Ronaldinho would be heading to the City of Manchester stadium next season.
Both stories were followed a few days later by de Assis' declaration that "Ronnie is happy at Barça. He has a contract until 2010 and I am not looking for anything."
That may be true, but what is also unavoidable is that Barcelona has, for some time, been laying the ground for Ronaldinho's possible departure.
The emergence of
The remarkable thing is that Ronaldinho is still only 28 years old. He may have had a poor season by his own high standards, but he is arguably about to enter the peak years of his career.
The link with Manchester City appears to be a tenuous one, especially as City manager
Chelsea will, inevitably, be linked with Ronaldinho because of owner
In a bid to join new clubs, Drogba and Lampard could be among the first high-profile players to invoke what has become known as the Webster ruling. A few months ago, Scottish defender
So the likes of Lampard and Drogba could move for a fraction of the fees that their clubs would have expected on the open market. Certainly, we're unlikely to see major bidding wars that result in telephone-number fees being paid.
Lyon has already extended and improved the contract of wunderkind
Lampard and Drogba, not to mention the likes of