AC Milan hand Chelsea free Ronaldinho run

The Guardian says a Milan source said their priority was to sign a striker rather than a playmaker, which they already possess in Kaka. The Italian club were perceived to be Chelsea's primary rivals in the pursuit of the Brazilian, who is becoming marginalised at Camp Nou.

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Chelsea are now the main suitors for Ronaldinho, with their owner, Roman Abramovich, having long targeted the Brazilian as a player who could supply the guile and effervescence he has been seeking at Stamford Bridge. Barca have valued him at £43m but would probably accept a substantial offer.

Abramovich met the player's brother, Roberto Assis in August and Chelsea are one of the few clubs able to match Ronaldinho's and Barca's financial demands. Other senior figures at Stamford Bridge are understood to be doubtful over whether a move for the 27-year-old would be advisable, particularly given the Premiership club's desire to streamline its business.

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