x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Allegri content with Ronaldinho

Ronaldino arrived in Milan from Barcelona in a three-year deal, but has found himself on the fringes of the team since Massimiliano Allegri took over as coach in June.

From left, AC Milan's Gianluca Zambrotta, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Bruno Montelongo train at the Al Mamzar Beach Park in Dubai.
From left, AC Milan's Gianluca Zambrotta, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Bruno Montelongo train at the Al Mamzar Beach Park in Dubai.

DUBAI // As AC Milan train in Dubai during the winter break, the fate of their Brazilian star Ronaldinho has been overshadowing their preparations for the restart of the Italian Serie A campaign.

Ronaldino arrived in Milan from Barcelona in a three-year deal, but has found himself on the fringes of the team since Massimiliano Allegri took over as coach in June following the departure of Leonardo, the Brazilian coach.

The addition of Antonio Cassano from Sampdoria to the squad will push him further down the pecking order.

The two-time Fifa Player of the Year has been linked to a move back to his former club Gremioin Brazil, and his brother and agent Roberto De Assis has reportedly met with Milan president Adriano Galliani to discuss Ronaldinho's furture.

Allegri, however, refused to discuss the speculations around the star and insists Ronaldinho remains a Milan player.

"There has been some speculation regarding Ronaldinho, but as long as the player is going to be playing for AC Milan, he will be a Milan player," said Allegri.

"Ronaldinho is in a very good state of mind and is working as hard as anybody else in the squad."

Cassano has had a volatile season, having not played for Sampdoria since early October after having a public falling out with Riccardo Garrone, the club's chairman.

Sampdoria had looked to terminate Cassano's contract and they came to terms for the Italian to move to Milan and Allegri is confident he will quickly settle in with the Serie A table toppers.

"Regarding Cassano, it has been two months since his last training. But he will be trying his best now during the sessions here to get back into shape," Allegri added.

Media reports earlier in the year had suggested the UAE could be one of the destinations for Ronaldinho and Fabio Cannavaro, the former Italy captain, has encouraged the Brazilian to consider such a proposal.

"I am really happy here and having a fantastic time," said Cannavaro, who arrived at Al Ahli on a free transfer after the World Cup. "Dubai is a fantastic place and the climate is good.

"There are players from various countries playing here so the league is good.

"There are lots of opportunities for good players here and I would certainly advice Ronaldinho to come over to Dubai."

Ronaldinho will get a taste UAE football on Sunday night when Cannavaro leads Ahli out for the Emirates Challenge Cup against Milan. Ahmad Khalifa Hammadi, the CEO of Ahli, is hoping the Brazilian and other Milan stars can light up the game with their sublime skills.

"We are honoured to host AC Milan at our club during their winter break and we are delighted to be playing against them," he said.

"We know AC Milan are one of the best clubs in the world and it is an honour for our players to have this chance of playing against them."

Mohammad al Mattar, divisional senior vice president of Emirates airline's airport services, shared Hammadi's enthusiasm for the game.

"We are pleased to be joined once again by the AC Milan team," he said. "This is the third time that Emirates have brought AC Milan to Dubai for a winter training tour. The first time was in 2007, when we first started our sponsorship relationship.

"This latest trip by Milan to Dubai will no doubt create more great moments for fans to enjoy with names such as Ronaldinho, Robinho, Seedorf, Pato and their latest signing Cassano all in town.

"I hope having these world class footballers here will provide a great deal of fun and enjoyment for everyone."

Milan are currently top of the Serie A, three points ahead of Napoli and Lazio, and Allegri is hoping this match and their training sessions here will put the team on course for the challenges in the Italian league and the Champions League, where they meet Tottenham Hotspurs in the quarterfinals.

"We are very happy to be here training in Dubai," said the Milan coach. "This tour is very important for us. Milan at the moment is freezing and these are favourable conditions here in Dubai for training.

"I am sure Al Ahli will be a good test for us ahead of our challenges back home in Italy and Europe. It is a good opportunity for the younger players to make an impression. Every trophy that we can win will be a good trophy."

arizvi@thenational.ae