A Ronaldinho Comeback? Everything Is In Line

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A Ronaldinho Comeback? Everything Is In Line
(Photo by New Press/Getty Images)

To some it seems the glory days are long gone; stepover after stepover, popping the ball over opponents, and no-look pinpoint passes.

He made Joga Bonito advertisements and 10 minute Youtube videos out of those who tried their best to stop him.

He was unstoppable and in turn, Barcelona was unstoppable. He inspired the side to two league titles and European glory in the Champions League. It was a force that hadn't been surpassed until, well, last season.

It's this fact and their new No. 10 that make his majestic aura fade even more.

And now at Milan, there he sat on the substitutions bench. Many are wondering along with him about how this happened. 

Once crowned as the world's best player for two consecutive seasons, Ronaldinho was indeed a true force to be reckoned with. No one can sustain that level of play for that long.

But nobody expected this massive drop in form.

Yet a bout with injury and weight gain saw him quickly fall out of the Barca first team.

Add the fact incoming manager Pep Guardiola wanted nothing to do with the Brazilian star and several others, and you had a situation that many would not have foreseen two years prior.

Ronaldinho would be offloaded.

Joan Laporta's "new challenge" for the playmaker would be at AC Milan. It appeared to be the perfect place, as Ronaldinho claimed it was a dream destination. But after a promising start, things became a nightmare.

The beginning of the 2008-2009 Serie A season saw him net seven league goals, including the winner against rivals Inter, before the turn of the year.

That's more than Kaka and Alexandre Pato had. 

While he wasn't perceived to be at his very best, things were going well for the superstar. However, minor leg injuries led to a regular spot on the bench even when fully fit.

Owner Silvio Berlusconi blamed manager Carlo Ancelotti for not using Ronaldinho's talents. And maybe Ancelotti wasn't completely wrong in dismissing him.

Perhaps Kaka's already established role in sparking the attack meant there was no need for another player in his mold. Perhaps David Beckham's unexpected amount of success shifted players around to leave no space for the Brazilian.

Perhaps last year was the wrong season for Ronaldinho to join Milan.

Things at the San Siro have now vastly changed though, and the midfielder could return to his once illustrious form. 

With the departure of Kaka and no direct replacement signing in sight, Ronaldinho would logically be the one to fill the important void. A quick look at a friendly with the LA Galaxy and the ongoing World Football Challenge will show that he's already being given the responsibility.

It also can't hurt that his new coach is Brazilian great Leonardo. A former Milan attacking midfielder himself, Leonardo has proclaimed that he wants fluid attacking play from his side.

Who better to promote such a philosophy than his fellow countryman? He is much more likely to give his trust and patience than Ancelotti did.

His teammates and the club also want to see him do well. So much in fact, that they'e pushing him.

This includes Berlusconi making him promise improvement and Clarence Seedorf urging him to put a pep in his step during a training session.

Recent reports suggest that Dinho is working hard to regain the physical shape he had during his best years at Barca. If he can regain his unrivaled burst when taking on defenders, he can once again be dangerous in the slower paced Serie A.

And in a season leading to the 2010 World Cup, he will personally want to do well in order to earn a spot in Brazil's final squad. It's a feat he will have to try especially hard to achieve, as he was left out of the team for the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup.

The Selecao went on to win it anyway, scoring a bucketful of goals.

Most importantly, Dinho appears to be taking all of the correct measures to be the one that steps up.

From his words to his actions, he knows the time is now to prove his worth. His play in Milan's American tour this summer has suggested he's still very capable of moments of brillance in his favored position. And it seems everyone is quickly adjusting to his leadership in attack.

So, can the former top player in the world make a comeback?

Last year was supposed be his chance, but things didn't quite work out. Now though, everything only points to a positive atmosphere and promotion for him to succeed.

It's all on his shoulders now and there will be no excuses whatsoever. All he must do is perform to his capabilities, and the 2009-2010 season will be one in which Ronaldinho will shine again.

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