England coach Fabio Capello believes the acquisition of Ronaldinho has made AC Milan favourites for the Serie A title. Milan have not been champions of their country since 2004 and last season they finished a disappointing fifth, which cost them a place in the 2008/09 UEFA Champions League.
However, they have bought well over the summer, bringing in Italy full-back Gianluca Zambrotta from Barcelona and French midfielder Mathieu Flamini from Arsenal. But their biggest signing was surely the capture of Ronaldinho, whom Capello believes can return to his top form.
"It is lucky for Milan that he is going to the Olympics," Capello said in an interview published in Thursday's Gazzetta dello Sport. "He will return match-fit and motivated following his year off."
The two-time FIFA World Player of the Year enjoyed three successful seasons at Barcelona, winning two La Liga titles and the Champions League, but lost his way last season amid rumours his commitment was waning. Capello nonetheless feels he can still get back to his form of old.
"If he has the desire to get back to his best, to rediscover his old self, to become once again one of the best three players in the world, he's gone to the right place," said the Italian. "Milan has everything to put him back into orbit."
Milan have had a good pre-season, even winning the Tim Trophy earlier this week - a three-way competition between Italy's biggest three clubs, Milan, Inter Milan and Juventus, where they each play 45 minutes against their two rivals on the same evening. Milan won both their mini-matches on penalties following draws to claim the trophy, considered quite prestigious despite its format.
With that success, their summer signings and the fact that Milan will not be distracted by the Champions League this coming season, Capello agrees with Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon that Milan are title favourites. "Great transfer signings and Tim Trophy success; ," said Capello.
"Europe can wait this time. (Coach Carlo) Ancelotti will use his best team in Serie A." However, Capello admitted that the pressure is on Milan, who, despite winning the Champions League in 2007, have a lot to prove in their own domestic championship.
"Milan can't wait any longer. Waiting makes you grow old. It's important to pick the right signings," said Capello, suggesting that maybe Milan still need some new faces, particularly with striker Marco Borriello facing two months on the sidelines.