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Ronaldinho encouraged Man United flop to sign for them ‘because he was too’

Kleberson's ill-fated move to United came a year after he won the World Cup alongside Ronaldinho, but he revealed the real reason for the switch was based on a false claim

Ronaldinho convinced Manchester United flop Kleberson to make the move to Old Trafford by telling his fellow World Cup winner he was also on his way to the Red Devils.

Kleberson made just 30 appearances for Sir Alex Ferguson’s side before being flogged to Besiktas just two years later, after Ronaldinho backed out of a move to United.


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Kleberson was presented as a Manchester United player on the same day as Old Trafford star Cristiano Ronaldo

PA:Press Association
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Kleberson was presented as a Manchester United player on the same day as Old Trafford star Cristiano Ronaldo

Kleberson joined United for £6million in 2003 from Atletico Paranaense and was presented to the media alongside Cristiano Ronaldo, but the two went on to have very different careers at the club.

Speaking to ESPN, he said: “Ronaldinho told me he was going to Manchester.

“He kept saying to me, ‘Come to Manchester!’ I wanted to go, but I was reluctant because I didn’t speak English and United didn’t have any Portuguese speakers.

“Ronaldinho persuaded me and I went to Manchester. But he didn’t.”

Kleberson was sold to Besiktas for half of his initial fee just two years after arriving at Old Trafford

Reuters
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Kleberson was sold to Besiktas for half of his initial fee just two years after arriving at Old Trafford

Kleberson won 32 caps for Brazil, including starts in the final three games of his country’s 2002 World Cup triumph.

But he could not translate his international form onto the pitch for his club, playing just 20 league games between 2005 and 2007 and scoring two goals.

Kleberson lined up alongside the likes of Ronaldo, Rivaldo and Ronaldinho in Brazil’s victorious 2002 World Cup squad

AP:Associated Press
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Kleberson lined up alongside the likes of Ronaldo, Rivaldo and Ronaldinho in Brazil’s victorious 2002 World Cup squad

Ronaldinho’s tale was not a wild goose chase however.

In March he revealed to FourFourTwo he was 48 hours from signing for United, to replace the Madrid-bound David Beckham.

But then he received a last-ditch call from Sandro Rosell, who was about to be elected Barcelona president, and completed a £25million move to the Nou Camp instead.

Kleberson was part of a long line of midfielders Ferguson attempted to replace Roy Keane with

News Group Newspapers Ltd
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Kleberson was part of a long line of midfielders Ferguson attempted to replace Roy Keane with

Ronaldinho said: “It was only a matter of details with United when Rosell called to say he was going to win the elections there.

“And I had promised to him that I’d play for Barca. It was a quick negotiation.

After spurning United, Ronaldinho won two World Player of the Year awards and the Ballon d’Or while at Barcelona

Getty Images - Getty
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After spurning United, Ronaldinho won two World Player of the Year awards and the Ballon d’Or while at Barcelona

“I told the English I had chosen Barca. It was the right choice, Brazilians have always loved Barça, we have a history there.

“Off the pitch it is like nowhere else in Europe, so we are always happy playing there. I miss Barcelona a lot.”


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