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Former Barca superstar is Newcastle’s relegation antidote

| 08.10.2015

There are a couple of unattached footballers still sat on the shelves that may tempt a few struggling Premier League outfits to pick them up.

Ashley Cole, Emmanuel Adebayor, Kevin Nolan and Ron Vlaar all possess considerable Premier League nous to aid a relegation scrap, but none represent a glamour signing capable of lightening an entire club’s mood.

That player is Ronaldinho, who has recently stated his desire to find a new side having parted ways with Brazil’s Fluminense at the end of September.

Although now 35, with the early stages of a gut visible through his jersey, the Brazilian Ballon d’Or winner insists he is still capable of performing on a level comparable to the world’s best.

He claims offers regularly fall at his doorstep, although there is the sense he is biding his time, waiting for the grand move that perfectly fits his carnival reputation.

There’s no real way of knowing what calibre of club the 97-cap international has already rebuffed in the days since his homecoming ended nine games in, but could it be that football’s finest exponent of the Elastico is waiting for a call from Newcastle?

Roll that idea around your mind for a few seconds, let it sink in beyond the guffaws and dismissals, and it actually starts to make sense.

Steve McClaren’s early life as the Magpies’ maestro has been ridiculed for its general lack of flair and overall misery.

Unless he’s brave enough to wait the turbulence out until January – Mike Ashley dependent, of course – and sign another tricky Frenchman to inspire some creativity, Ronaldinho could be a genius short-term fix for a man creeping closer to desperation.

It’s hard to imagine his capture would do anything other than energise the club’s downtrodden fans too, who have revelled in the majesty of players like Yohan Cabaye and Hatem Ben Arfa all too briefly recently.

Supporter interest would in turn benefit Ashley, who isn’t likely to need the commercial windfalls of signing such a player explained to him.

It would be a mutually beneficial switch as well. The area’s notorious nightlife would no doubt pique the interest of Ronaldinho’s loose hips, while his ambition to play in the Premier League was aired as recently as last summer.

This is of course a partnership that has been flirted with before. Ashley infamously made an enquiry over the then-Barcelona star when he first bought Newcastle in 2007.

The £58m price he was quoted likely made his nose bleed, but some eight years later, the figures, and timing, may finally be right.

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Matt Wiggins

No idyllic sound comes close to leather on willow for Matt, whose previous experience includes stints with Spin Magazine and Surrey County Cricket Club. It's not just cricket that interests him though, with football, golf, tennis and any American sport not played on ice all high on his list of favourites.