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Is Ronaldo’s choice of Corinthians canny or cushy?
Ronaldo is back. Nearly 10 months after suffering a serious knee injury during a Serie A game for AC Milan, the third such misfortune in his career, he has agreed terms to join Corinthians, one of Brazil’s biggest and most volatile clubs.
Even before the injury, Ronaldo had been struggling amid speculation he was overweight but had lost his hunger for the game. He had not been picked by Brazil since his much-criticised performance at the 2006 World Cup and was eventually off-loaded to Milan from Real Madrid less than six months later.
Now, after nearly a year of what he has described as a sacrifice, plus a highly-damaging incident involving three transvestites in Rio de Janeiro, Ronaldo is set for a comeback at the age of 32.
Few believe that he can get anywhere near the player who used to power his way past defenders before finding the back of the net with uncanny accuracy. Ronaldo, however, has proved the doubters wrong in the past.
Brazil’s 2002 World Cup coach Luiz Felipe Scolari was accused of being reckless when he brought Ronaldo back into the team shortly after he had recovered from nearly two years out of action following successive injuries to his right knee. Yet, Ronaldo responded by blasting eight goals to lead Brazil to their fifth world title.
After parting company with Milan in the European summer, Ronaldo was reported to have attracted interest from European clubs and so returning to Brazil for the first time since 1994 could be seen as a cushy option. But it could also work in his favour.
The Brazilian season starts in January so Ronaldo will be starting on a level footing with his team mates. If he had gone to a European club, he would have been struggling to regain fitness and force his way into a side halfway through the season.
Being at home also means he has a better chance of impressing Brazil coach Dunga. Ronaldo’s former Brazil striking partner Adriano had six months on loan at Sao Paulo from Inter Milan in the first half of the year and his impressive scoring rate was enough to persuade Dunga to recall him.
Corinthians general manager Antonio Carlos still believes that Ronaldo, who will be 34 when the next World Cup comes around, still has an international future.
“He’s a fantastic player and the national team still needs him,” he said. “He knows that by being in Brazil, he will be seen.”
PHOTO: A soccer fan waits for a vendor to print the new Corinthians jersey with the name of Brazilian striker Ronaldo, Sao Paulo, Dec. 9, 2008. REUTERS/Paulo Whitaker