Brazilian legend Ronaldinho gave Premier League clubs a four-day window to sign him up on a free transfer.
It wasn’t to be, however, as the flamboyant 32-year-old penned a deal with Atletico Mineiro in his homeland.
Unveiled during a press conference yesterday, Ronaldinho was originally set to debut against Bahia today (Wednesday), but having not been registered in time, he’ll have to wait before making a first appearance at his sixth different club during a glittering career.
The British media weren’t slow to link the former Barcelona star with a move to these shores, with The Daily Mail claiming Premier League clubs were ‘on alert’ Friday following confirmation of his contract termination at Flamengo.
A judge ruled in favour of the former World Player of the Year over termination of his contract at the Engenhão in Rio, with the player now claiming $20 million in compensation over unpaid salaries and delayed payments.
“His contract has been terminated. Flamengo has already been notified. Now we are demanding a very high amount in compensation, of course, which he has the right to receive by contract,” said lawyer Gislaine Nunes.
A move to the Premier League would have been a long-shot, given the player’s astronomical wages. Whilst Mineiro aren’t paying the same figure, he was earning around £455,000 a month with the Urubu.
"I can't talk about his salary, but Atlético will be able to pay for it by itself, we won't need the help of a partner,” said club president Alexandre Kalil.
“He is not just any player, he is Ronaldinho. I have a reputation as a madman but I am not mad enough to turn down the chance to sign Ronaldinho.”
The move begins another chapter in this legendary attacking midfielder’s career, having started life with Gremio as a teenager in the Campeonato Brasileiro.
He spent three years with the Tricolor as a senior professional before moving to Europe, with Paris Saint-Germain bringing the player to France in a €5 million deal. Ronaldinho would join Mikel Arteta and Jay-Jay Okocha in a star-studded midfield.
Three years later, Barcelona would come calling after president Joan Laporta missed out on David Beckham. The England skipper joined Spanish rivals Real Madrid, but not to be outdone, the Blaugrana swooped on Brazil’s poster boy. It cost them a reported €30 million.
Over the next five years, Ronaldinho would help deliver success in Catalonia, not to mention style and flair on the way to two La Liga titles and a Champions League trophy. A quick search on YouTube will also show you an array of his spectacular goals at the Camp Nou.
A regular throughout the first two seasons in Serie ‘A’ both domestically and in Europe, Ronaldinho found his playing time limited during the 2010/11 campaign, a year in which he picked up a Scudetto and left the club.
The arrivals of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Robinho meant a lack of playing time at the San Siro, and it was Flamengo who won the race to sign the player last January despite interest from Blackburn Rovers.
Still dreaming of a place in his nation’s 2014 World Cup side, Ronaldinho has since decided it’s time to move on, with Mineiro in Belo Horizonte his new home.
Still part of Mano Menezes’ plans, the flamboyant playmaker has plenty to offer the Selecao, and will be hoping for a run of games – and form – with the Galo. His experience could be pivotal, given the weight of expectation on the nation's young stars.
Sadly for fans in England though, it appears any chance of a spell in the English Premier League are now gone.