Ronaldinho was considered to be past his prime by pundits and supporters alike when he arrived in the Italian Peninsula in the season of 2008/2009. The mediocre debut season did nothing to prove them wrong. On the contrary, it confirmed everything they had expected of the former Brazilian wonder who no longer displayed dazzling performances or smiles.
The current campaign started off much in much the same fashion—but that was all to change. As Coach Leonardo figured out how to get the best out of the players at his disposal, the team started to thrive.
But there was one player in particular—Ronaldinho.
The Brazilian has undergone a renaissance under the guidance of fellow countryman Leonardo and has emerged as one of the team’s protagonists this season.
It is partly due to Ronnie’s brilliant form that the Rossoneri currently lie second in the standings, six points off the pace with one game in hand.
Who would have thought that the AC Milan—who got thrashed in the beginning of the season by champions and city rivals Inter Milan—would come to be genuine contenders for the Scudetto, a title they haven’t won since the season of 2003/2004?
The dribbles, slalom runs, overhead-kicks, sublime passes, wonder goals, and dummies are all back on display. The Brazilian is hardly back to his Barcelona-best where he was easily superior to his peers, but the signs are encouraging. If he continues on the same path it will be very difficult—if not impossible—for Carlos Dunga to keep Ronnie out of the Selecão as the World Cup looms even closer.
The 29-year-old has scored nine goals—not to mention a stunning hat trick against Siena—and created numerous others in his 18 appearances so far.
It is simple to see that Ronaldinho is in love with football again.
“I have more fun here than when I was at Barcelona. I feel like I’ve gone back to when I was 18 years old, when I was enjoying myself like a madman with the ball at my feet. This is the greatest time of my life. I feel the love and so I am happy. Milan put me in a condition to work well, so I reach the field with the confidence and enthusiasm to do what I want.”
In fact, Ronnie has expressed a desire to finish his career at the club and his impressive form might lead to just that, considering the reports which suggest that the Diavolo are ready to put forward a contract extension that would keep the prolific forward at the club until 2013.
With the second "Derby della Madonnina" only days away, Ronnie is ready to take to the spotlight once more. If the Rossoneri emerge victorious from the showdown with their city rivals, they could potentially be level on points—something Ronaldinho desires deeply as he aims toward "The Double."
“I want to win the Scudetto and Champions League with AC Milan, because I believe in The Double. Inter can be caught. I would also like to make Alexandre Pato and Marco Borriello the Capocannoniere winners thanks to my assists. Finally, I want to entertain all those fans who love me.”
There is no doubt that the Brazilian is enjoying his football again. He’s not just dazzling us with his arsenal of tricks, but also that contagious buck-toothed smile the world fell in love with a few years back.