Manchester United looked set to miss out on the signing of Ronaldinho today after Barcelona revealed they were in negotiations with the Brazilian’s agent.
Barca president Joan Laporta and his associates were today meeting with Roberto Assis, who is also the player’s brother, according to the Spanish club’s website.
They appear now to have stolen a march on United, who have finally lost patience with Ronaldinho’s current club, Paris St Germain, and have set a 6pm (Irish time) deadline for them to accept the Premiership champions’ final offer of £23m (€33m).
The latest development could mean United step up their rumoured interest in Damien Duff, who is in talks with Chelsea over a move to the west London club.
United boss Sir Alex Ferguson is keen to bring in some top-quality players following David Beckham’s departure and will not want to miss out on Ronaldinho and Duff.
Discussions between Barca president Laporta, vice-presidents Sandro Rosell and Ferran Soriano, director general Xavier Perez Farguell and Assis have been going on at the club’s offices since 9.30am Irish time.
Barca leapt to the front of the queue to sign Ronaldinho on Thursday when PSG claimed they claimed United’s bid was inferior to that from the Spanish club.
Rosell’s press secretary Juanho Castillo told PA International then: “We are looking forward to having him here playing at the Nou Camp next season.
“His negotiators are very tough. but we are optimistic we’ll have him here.
“Just two days ago we thought our chances had gone.”
The 23-year-old World Cup-winner was expected to arrive in Barcelona later today to finally end the transfer saga which has lasted most of the summer and also involved Real Madrid, Chelsea and Newcastle courting the player at one time or another.
Castillo told PA International today: “We are finally in agreement. We are expecting the player to fly in later this evening.
“There will be a medical on Sunday and then the presentation on Monday.”