April 4, 2006
MetroFanatic has learned that Red Bull is not sitting still on their most recent acquisition. In fact, it has approached a number of players about wearing New York's Red. One of the targets is Brazilian superstar Ronaldo, who is under contract with Real Madrid through 2008. However, Red Bull, who has been dropping money in various directions including advertising, the grass field, and the players' locker room, doesn't look at the potential mammoth transfer fee as a problem. And Ronaldo is supposedly interested in the possibility of playing in MLS earlier than his Madrid contract expires, but probably not this year.
Of course, an issue remains of fitting Ronaldo, a three-time World Player of the Year, under the salary cap. Metro could use him in the way LA is using Landon Donovan and DC is using Freddy Adu; sign him where only the league's "official" maximum counts against the salary cap, while the real salary would be much more than that. The question is, when would Ronaldo (or whoever Metro signs) come to MLS; after the World Cup? Unlikely. Next year then?
In the past years, Ronaldo has made numerous comments about playing in the U.S. Who knows... can it actually become true? Or is this just another rumor which will fizzle out?
Interestingly, Ronaldo and Youri Djorkaeff were teammates on Inter for two seasons. Another side note is that Ronaldo shares (shared?) an agent, Giovanni Branchini, with Roberto Donadoni. The ex-Metro will make a return to Giants Stadium for this week's team opener, and is rumored in some circles to be first in line to succeed Mo Johnston if (when?) the latter is pushed out by the Austrian overlords.
Two days after MetroFanatic broke this story, the mutual interest from Metro and Ronaldo was confirmed to BigAppleSoccer by Djorkaeff and other sources. There is also unconfirmed speculation that Ronaldo has already agreed to join the team.