Fans Want Ronaldinho Out of Flamengo

Rio de Janeiro, Apr 7 (IANS): Little more than a year after being hailed as Flamengo's saviour, supporters of Brazil's biggest club want Ronaldinho out of the team.

An emphatic 83 percent of respondents in a poll conducted by football website Lancenet said the former Barcelona and AC Milan star should be sold by the club.

It follows a string of poor performances, culminating in Wednesday's 2-3 defeat to Ecuador's Emelec that has left Flamengo facing almost certain elimination from the Copa Libertadores.

Ronaldinho, whose monthly wage is a reported $700,000, has looked a shadow of the player that once enchanted world football.

In 13 games so far this season, he has scored just two goals from open play, Xinhua reports.

The playmaker has reportedly already missed 10 training sessions this year, fuelling rumours of favouritism by coach Joel Santana.

Wednesday's loss to Emelec led fans and local media to finally lose their patience.

Fans also showed their disapproval by pelting the team bus Friday with eggs and popcorn.

Ronaldinho's tribulations offer a stark contrast to his arrival at Flamengo in January last year when he was greeted by 20,000 fans and hailed as a hero.

A month earlier, the club had narrowly escaped relegation to Brazil's second division following a disappointing 2010 season.

After an indifferent start to 2011, Ronaldinho helped revive Flamengo's fortunes with a fourth place finish in the league, guaranteeing a place in the Copa Libertadores' qualification round.

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