Barca court Ronaldinho

MADRID - FC Barcelona have reportedly asked Ronaldinho's agent for a meeting in an attempt to improve relations with the Brazil forward.

MADRID - FC Barcelona have reportedly asked Ronaldinho's agent for a meeting in an attempt to improve relations with the Brazil forward.

Barcelona hope to convince Roberto De Assis, who is also Ronaldinho's brother, that they still believe in the 28-year-old player despite his below-par season, news agency Efe said yesterday.

The two-time Fifa world player of the year, who has missed the past three league matches and 13 over the season because of a series of physical problems, has been widely accused of a lack of commitment to the club.

Doubts about Ronaldinho's future grew this week when Italian paper Gazzetta dello Sport reported that De Assis recently met AC Milan vice president Adriano Galliani to discuss a possible move. Sports daily Marca has added that De Assis had also spoken to officials from Inter Milan.

While the buy-out clause attached to Ronaldinho's contract - which runs to 2010 R1,5 billion - De Assis is reportedly threatening to invoke Article 17 of Fifa's transfer rules, which allow a player under 28 to end his contract after three years.

This would allow the Brazilian to leave Barcelona for a much lower fee - reportedly about R19,4 million.

Ronaldinho joined Barcelona from Paris Saint-Germain in 2003 and helped the club win the Champions League in 2006 and the Spanish league title in 2005 and 2006.

The Catalan team lie third in the Spanish league.- Sapa-AP

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