Ronaldinho leaves Atletico Mineiro, could be headed to MLS

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Former Barcelona great and FIFA World Player of the Year, Ronaldinho, has left Brazilian club Atletico Mineiro after the two sides agreed to terminate the player’s contract with one year remaining.

“I can’t call on Ronaldinho anymore,” Mineiro manager Levir Culpi told SporTV on Tuesday. “His cycle with us has ended. It’s unfortunate because he’s an idol to all of us. Everyone loves his football, the way he plays and he’s a very charismatic person. But that’s the way it goes. He’s leaving and we must move on without him.”

He will not, however, be retiring.

“He’ll play until he’s 42,” Ronaldinho’s agent and brother Roberto Assis reportedly told Brazilian publication Globo after being questioned about the player’s future.

Where, exactly, that future lies is anyone’s guess. Anywhere from Brazil to Argentine side Bocas Juniors, to the Middle East to Major League Soccer have been proposed as possible destinations. This wouldn’t be the first time Ronnie has been linked with a move stateside after reports in 2010 and 2011 had him moving to LA Galaxy.

While a move to the City of Angels would seem logical from a marketing point of view, from a practical one it’s a near impossibility as the Galaxy don’t have any Designated Player spots remaining.

An option with slightly more potential would see Ronaldinho move to New York Red Bulls, a side long in need of an attacking midfielder. The addition of ‘Dinho would not only satisfy the need for a playmaker but could be also prove a key move to encourage Thierry Henry, rumored to be retiring after this season, and Tim Cahill, reportedly interested in a move to Australia ahead of Asia Cup 2015, to remain at the club for at least one more season.

Downsides to a deal for Ronaldinho are aplenty as the Brazilian remains a flight risk (as became obvious in his time with Flamengo and Mineiro) and the lure of partying in New York City could disrupt his output. There’s little question that the city and the league would embrace Ronaldinho and his entertaining style of play. Whether he’d be a smart fit, however, is a much bigger issue.