ROME, July 18, 2009 (AFP)
- AC Milan playmaker Ronaldinho has insisted he is ready to fill the boots left by departed Brazilian compatriot Kaka during the coming season.
Ronaldinho will begin his second season in Italy with memories of a disappointing first campaign fresh in his mind but with Kaka having moved on to Real Madrid, he knows there will be added responsibility on him this time around.
Having begun well during his first season at Milan, Ronaldinho fell out of favour with former coach Carlo Ancelotti over the second half of the campaign as the now-Chelsea boss preferred an attacking triumvirate comprising Kaka, Pato and Filippo Inzaghi.But with Kaka gone and Brazil compatriot Leonardo the new coach, Ronaldinho believes his time has come to shine once again and try to reproduce the form he showed at Barcelona when earning world player of the year awards in 2004 and 2005.
“I've naturally become the leader of this group, day after day,” he told the Saturday edition of La Gazzetta dello Sport, insisting though that he does not feel any added responsibility.
“I feel something much more important: faith, from my team-mates, the club, the atmosphere.
“Responsibility is just a consequence and that's a pleasure and not a concern in any way.
“Last year I started well and then things took a down turn because I got injured and Ancelotti stopped playing me.
“This time I want to have a great season, from the first game to the last.
“Aims develop, a bit like Milan. Last year our aim was to qualify for the Champions League, now we want to win it.” And as the 28-year-old tries to recapture his Barcelona form, he insists he has a good chance as he is also nearing his Barcelona weight, an issue that has been a source of criticism against the former Paris St Germain player these last two seasons due to an expanding waist-line.
“I feel good, I'm very committed, I'm motivated. I've lost a few kilos and I'm close to my fight-weight at Barcelona,” he said.
“And with respects to last season I'm more adapted to life in Italy, the language, the way of life, friendships. I feel happy here.”