Barca play down Ronnie rift
Barca have denied talk Ronaldinho could leave amid reports they are preparing for life without him.
By James Pearson
Last Updated: 26/03/08 1:54pm
Barcelona have denied talk Ronaldinho could leave amid intense speculation in Spain they are already preparing for life without the Brazilian superstar.
Talk regarding the forward's future has been rife this term with the Catalan giants reportedly unhappy at the player's below-par form and alleged off-the-field antics.
The Spanish media are intimating that Barca are willing to offload the €8million-a-year (£6.3million-a-year) ace on the cheap in order to make a clean break.
However, Barca supremo Joan Laporta is painting a very different picture, saying the fans' favourite is staying put at Camp Nou.
"There is no divorce between Barcelona and Ronaldinho," said club president Laporta. "We hope Ronaldinho will be back as soon as possible.
"At the moment he is suffering some pain and we have to respect that. While he has got this pain we can't count on him."
Laporta has stated the former Paris Saint Germain ace is still part of coach Frank Rijkaard's plans, although until he is fully fit he will not be selected.
"The coach would like to have Ronaldinho at his disposal, but if that isn't possible we will just have to carry on without him," he said.
"Right now we have to look to the team rather than any individuals. The players that aren't playing should do all they can to recover and be available for the coach.
"At this stage of the season the strength of the whole team is the most important thing."
Barcelona confirmed on their official website on Wednesday that Ronaldinho had successfully completed his recuperation exercises in the club's gym in the morning.