Ronaldinho responds to Milan call
ROME: Just when he needed to, Ronaldinho produced a match-winning performance in AC Milan's 2-1 success at Siena in their opening Serie A match of the season.
The pressure is on the Brazilian twice former world player of the year this season to step up to the plate and prove he is still capable of dazzling on the highest stage.
Since Milan let star player Kaka leave for Real Madrid without bringing in any kind of marquee signing, the San Siro has been looking to a player already within their ranks to replace the 2007 World Player of the Year.
And that player is Ronaldinho, the star of the Barcelona team who lifted the Champions League in 2006 and who began life in Milan well at the beginning of last season before fading badly over the second half of the campaign.
Before Saturday's match against Siena his own coach and countryman, Leonardo, claimed it was high time Ronaldinho put the last two seasons behind him and recaptured his old form.
"The team and I will do all we can to help him give his maximum. He is coming along well and it's now or never. His time has come for Milan and Brazil," said Leonardo.
Ronaldinho responded in fine style, creating both goals for Pato and orchestrating play from behind his young team-mate and his strike partner Marco Borriello.
A similar performance will be expected of Ronaldinho week in week out if Milan are to have any chance of challenging for the title this season.
But at least his club are pleased with him.
"Ronaldinho put in a great performance of how to play off the front men," said vice president Adriano Galliani.
Leonardo was also happy with his ability to adapt to this position.
"Ronaldinho can play any role in attack and he makes others score, that's one of his best traits."
But most delighted of all was Pato, who benefited from his compatriot's vision.
"Everyone's talking about Ronaldinho, but he's brilliant, he's number one," he said. "He creates many chances for the other forwards. We're really happy with him, he's on his way back and it's easy playing with him."
It was a good start to the season for Ronaldinho but tougher tests are just around the corner, beginning with the Milan derby against champions Inter next week.