AC Milan owner and Italian politician Silvio Berlusconi insisted Tuesday that three-time FIFA World Player of the Year Ronaldo would stay with the European champions. The Brazilian is currently side-lined with a ruptured knee tendon that is unlikely to see him return to competitive action much before 2009.
His contract at Milan expires in June and even the 31-year-old himself has admitted that his whole footballing career, let alone his stay at Milan, could be over. But Berlusconi still wants to see the former Barcelona, Inter Milan and Real Madrid striker plying his trade at the San Siro next season.
"I think Ronaldo will stay with us, and if he wants to he can still be a major player," Berlusconi told Sky TV. "He's already suffered this type of injury to his other knee and he knew how to come back. If he still has the desire, he is very young, he's 31. Here we have an example at our own club (Paolo) Maldini who is 40 (actually 39).
Making comparisons between the clean-living Maldini who has had few serious injuries during his career and the oft-overweight Ronaldo who has already missed the best part of 20 months when he suffered the same injury to his other knee back in 1999 seems futile, though.
Even if Ronaldo wanted to come back, he will be at least 32 when he returns and will certainly be no fitter or slimmer than he is now - and already he has faced a barrage of criticism over the last couple of years for his inability to last a full match and for his expanding waistline.
But only 10 days ago Ronaldo himself gave an interview to Brazilian TV where he admitted the possibility that his career was over.
Berlusconi seems more concerned that he cannot field his dream Brazilian attacking trio - with Kaka and Pato - although he has expressed an interest in signing Inter Milan's Adriano, currently on loan in Brazil.
His pursuit of Adriano is motivated by his dream of a Brazilian model to rival AC Milan's Swedish triumverate (Gunnar Gren, Nils Lidholm and Gunnar Nordahl) of the 1950s or the Dutch one (Frank Rijkaard, Ruud Gullit and Marco van Basten) of the late 1980s and early 1990s.
Berlusconi's other concern is over rumours that coach Carlo Ancelotti will take over the Italy national team after UEFA EURO 2008. "I don't know about that. I have to say that selfishly I hope that Ancelotti stays with us," said Berlusconi.