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Saturday, February 24, 2007

Ronaldinho's Waistline!

Barcelona players defended their Brazilian international team-mate Ronaldinho on Friday against media allegations that he is under form this season because of his expanding waistline.

"I think he is fine. He has scored 16 goals in the league this season so I don't understand why there are complaints about his performance level," said Argentine striker Lionel Messi.

"As long as he plays well I don't think there is a problem with his weight," added his fellow Argentine striker Javier Saviola when asked about the issue at a news conference.

Ronaldinho did not train with the rest of his Barcelona team-mates on Friday opting instead to train in the gym, club officials said.

Earlier on Friday sports daily As published two contrasting photos of the bare-chested midfielder taken four years apart on its front page under the headline: "Ronaldinho loses his figure". The photo on the left depicted a muscular Ronaldinho and was taken after Barcelona draw against Real Sociedad in November 2003 while the one on the right, taken after Barca's Champions League loss to Liverpool on Wednesday, shows his more plump recent state.

The Catalan daily El Periodico published similar contrasting photos on its front page and blamed the 2004 and 2005 World Player of the Year recent slump in form on his weight gain.
"He has lost his explosiveness and velocity," it said in an article on the player and physical state, before adding the 26-year-old was "worn out".

An active social life, personal problems, too many advertising commitments and unhappiness over his contract still not being renewed beyond 2010 when it expires were all cited by the press as possible reasons for Ronaldinho's weight gain.

Barcelona coach Frank Rijkaard defended the player last month after As reported that the Catalan club were thinking of selling the Brazilian striker. "Ronaldinho is a key player. Ronaldinho is also part of the team and we have to look at that (issue) together," he said, referring to the player's recent under-performance.
"Leave us in peace to carry on working, I have confidence in everything he's done and I'm sure he will return to what he was," he added.