Brazilian players moving to Europe and returning to Brazil are far from uncommon. What makes Ronaldinho's case different however, is that although he is no longer at his best, nor is he completely over the hill, like many Brazilians when they make their way back home. Ronaldo "El Fenomeno," for example was 33 years old and overweight when he made the move back to Brazil. Roberto Carlos was 37; Rivaldo returned to Brazil at 32, left again and has since returned at the tender age of 38.
The fact is whilst many Brazilians do return home to retire, that is exactly what most of them are doing. They are there to see out their last couple of years of football, because they could no longer compete in Europe. Ronaldinho, however, is still perfectly capable of competing in Europe, and attracted a lot of interest when Milan made him available for transfer.
Clubs in Brazil are generally incapable of offering the same high wages that top clubs in Europe can, but by around 28, a top Brazilian footballer in Europe is likely to have earned more money than they are likely to spend, and a degree of patriotism and loyalty should be enough to encourage Brazilians to return home.
The Brazilian Serie A is a league with great potential, arguably the strongest in the Americas. With young stars still coming through and attracting interest from Europe, the best way for Brazilian clubs to hold off interest from Europe is to attract players the other way. As more talented players return from Europe, or remain in Brazil, the reputation of the league increases, along with the club's finances and pulling power.
Would the Brazilian Serie A be able to compete with top European leagues with more top Brazilian players?
By starting a trend, it could easily become the norm for Brazilian players simply to stay in Brazil, or indeed to simply spend less time playing in Europe, and thus build the Brazilian league into one of the strongest on the planet.
Imagine if wonder-kid Neymar spends his whole career at Santos. Imagine if Luis Fabiano were to return to Sao Paulo, and Maicon moved back to Cruzeiro. These are simply some examples, but they would surely attract interest to the league, encouraging television companies worldwide to broadcast the league, and as such, send a steady cash flow into the league and the clubs it contains. When this happens, the league can begin to attract Argentinian, Spanish, Italian and French players.
All it takes is a few high-profile players, still capable of performing at the highest level, to decide that they want to build the sport within their home nation. In terms of passion, few fans can touch the Brazilians, and it only seems fitting that those same fans of the national team are able to support some of the top clubs in the world, with the best players in the world, within their own country.