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What’s happening with Adriano?
When everyone thought Adriano had definitively left his off-field problems behind and was on the way to becoming once again one of the most feared strikers in the world, writes Pedro Fonseca, the Brazil international is showing that his personal fragility still haunts him.
The 28-year-old striker, who at the height of his powers helped Brazil win the 2004 Copa America and 2005 Confederations Cup as best player and top scorer of both competitions, returned to training with Flamengo on Monday for the first time since playing for Brazil in a World Cup warm-up against Ireland in London a week ago.
Last Friday, when Adriano was expected at Flamengo, he didn’t turn up. The justification given by the Rio club’s vice-president raised fears Adriano again faced problems with drink, one of the reasons for his loss of form and disenchantment with his football career in the past.
“Adriano’s problems are notorious and well known,” said Marcos Braz.
The former Inter Milan striker, who almost quit football a year ago over his personal problems in Italy, recovered his love of the game in 2009 and topped the scoring charts as he helped Flamengo win the Brazilian championship.
This led to his Brazil recall and an almost certain berth in Dunga’s World Cup squad.
However, Adriano did not make the most of his starting place against Ireland as a stand-in for the injured Luis Fabiano. Local media reported he was overweight and had been ticked off by Dunga for missing some Flamengo practices this season.
Lacking mobility, Adriano was substituted in the second half at the Emirates Stadium by Grafite, who laid on Brazil’s second goal for Robinho.
Two months before Dunga names his World Cup squad of 23, Adriano could become the victim of Brazil’s fear of the ghost of their failed campaign at the 2006 finals in Germany where top players like Ronaldo and Adriano himself turned up overweight and failed to regain their best form.
There are several aspirants waiting in the wings for another Adriano fall, from young Santos revelation Neymar through Grafite to Ronaldinho.
In Dunga’s mind, Ronaldinho possible off-field problems would affect the good atmosphere in his squad, but will Adriano behave better during a month-long tournament?
PHOTO: Ireland’s Stephen Kelly (R) tackles Brazil’s Adriano during their international friendly soccer match at Emirates Stadium in London March 2, 2010. REUTERS/Toby Melville