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Should Leonardo listen to Berlusconi about Ronaldinho?
The Italian premier, who has again denied he is considering selling a stake in the club, thinks Ronaldinho can be Milan’s “Usain Bolt” and fill the gap left by his Brazilian compatriot Kaka if he is used as a second striker rather than an playmaker.
Although Berlusconi has been careful with his transfer spending, and Milan could struggle again this term judging by the 4-0 derby hammering by Inter, he knows a thing or two about soccer and might have a point about Ronaldinho.
Leonardo is using his fellow Brazilian in the hole behind two strikers, probably his best position if he were in peak condition as it exploits his ability to conjure up chances for others and gives him room for his individual charges towards goal.
But he has not looked 100 percent fit for some time, so those wonderful runs are thin on the ground and the midfielders are having to do overtime because he does not chase back.
Using Ronaldinho as a striker might restore the team’s balance and lower the physical demands on him, simply because he would be nearer to goal and have less galloping to do. Being closer to the danger zone could lead to more goals too, which would bolster his fragile confidence.
Leonardo could pair him with powerful centre forward Marco Borriello or a goal poacher such as Filippo Inzaghi or Klaas-Jan Huntelaar. Alternatively he could make up a front line with in-form Alexandre Pato — a partnership that would be potentially unmarkable.
The advice might be good but if Leonardo takes it, he risks looking like the owner’s puppet. So next time Berlusconi has some tips, he might be better whispering into his coach’s ear instead of yelling them via the media.
PHOTO: AC Milan’s coach Leonardo (R) walks with Ronaldinho at a practice session before their World Football Challenge match against Inter Milan on Sunday in Foxborough, Massachusetts July 25, 2009. REUTERS/Adam Hunger