Italian agent reveals how Brazilian Ronaldo left Barça

The Italian agent Giovanni Branchini, who, along with Reinaldo Pitta and Alexandre Martins, acted as the representative of the Brazilian striker Ronaldo, has recalled the tense negotiations with FC Barcelona to renew the player's contract.

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The difficult and controversial deal ended in collapse, and led to the player joining Inter Milan in the summer of 1997.

In comments made to 'calciomercato' website, Branchini explains that the rupture in negotiations was the consequence of a lack of commitment from the directors of the Catalan club.

Remembering the development of the conversations, the Italian makes clear that "Ronaldo had no intention of leaving Barcelona. He was comfortable there. The city was beautiful, he had completed a great first season and had become world renowned at the age of just 20."

So what happened to provoke the sudden departure of the player to Inter? Branchini recalls that before Christmas of 1996, the Barcelona directors wanted to tie him down to a more secure deal, eliminating the release clause in his contract which would allow him to leave for a certain amount of money.

Ronaldo's agent explains that "the problem was that, as the law was drawn up, it was the worker that had to pay out of their pocket to resolve their contract."

However, the agents were able to insert a clause which stated that the Brazilian "reserved the right to go to any club which paid the clause for him."

After some long and tough negotiations, Barcelona accepted the inclusion of this clause, which later became crucial in opening the door for Ronaldo to join Inter Milan.

During the months in which the two parties negotiated the renewal, the player's agents had three teams tracking everything that was taking place.

Along with Inter, Branchini states that Lazio and Glasgow Rangers also showed great interest. 

The Scottish club wanted to win the Champions League, and they were only interested in having Ronaldo available for that competition, on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

Neither Branchini nor his fellow agents were impressed with the decision of FC Barcelona president Josep Lluis Nuñez to announce a press conference, after the club and the player reached a deal in principle to renew his contract, in the spring of 1997.

The club had accepted to pay 85% of the player's wages in a federative contract, and the remaining 15% in image rights.

Branchini says he did not trust the club's intentions as the contract was not yet signed, and he adds that later events would prove him right.

After celebrating the deal in the afternoon in a Barcelona restaurant, they returned to the club's offices at 9pm and found that Barça had not respected what had been discussed.

"What we had agreed just three hours previously, was no longer true. I thought I was dreaming. In reality, I was in anguish.

I knew I had to do my job until the end, and that meant breaking the work relationship with a club such as the glorious Barcelona.

I went back to the hotel with Pitta and Martins after midnight, and after a furious argument with a lawyer and the club president. 

The vice-president Gaspart, who knew we were serious, tried until the end to leave the negotiation open, but the proverbial arrogance of Barcelona made any agreement impossible", concludes Branchini.

When he found out, Ronaldo "was very resentful about how they acted during the months of negotiations. From that moment, Barça became a part of his past", according to the agent.

The rest is history. Inter paid around 20 million pounds (approximately 24 million euros), to trigger the player's release clause and agreed to pay him his full wages in a federative contract, without image rights.

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