Ronaldinho – Antalyaspor’s Latest Tourist Attraction

Ronaldinho – Antalyaspor’s Latest Tourist Attraction

Usually it is the big clubs from Istanbul, Beşiktaş, Galatasaray, and Fenerbahçe, that dominate the headlines during the summer transfer window of the Turkish Süper Lig. This summer, however, the Antalya based club Antalyaspor is stealing the spotlight from Istanbul by signing the Cameroonian star striker Samuel Eto’o, who will earn a reported €3 million a year until 2018. Now, it also appears that Antalyaspor has been able to sign the former Brazilian national team player Ronaldinho as well. Antalyaspor’s president Gültekin Gencer has since confirmed the transfer: “We reached an agreement with Ronaldinho,” he told the Turkish sport agency TRT Spor. “I think within two days it’ll be made official.” Despite the fact that both Eto’o, who is 34, and Ronaldinho, who is 35, are both past their prime, both transfers are extraordinary for a club that spent last season in the Turkish TFF First League, and was promoted to the Süper Lig after winning the promotion playoffs. The club’s president Gencer is the engine driving Antalya’s ambitious football project. Gencer, a native of Antalya, is also the president of the board of managers of the Association of Industrials and Businessmen of Dosemealti municipality in Antalya, and is also owner of the GENPA Shopping Market Group, which was hit with financial difficulties this year. Despite the monetary troubles of the GENPA Group, Gencer aspires to make Antalyaspor the newest tourist attraction on the Turkish Riviera. Together with Eto’o, Ronaldinho is supposed to bring some star quality to a club that has been a bit of a nonentity in Turkish football. In addition, Antalyaspor is scheduled to move into a new 33,000-seat stadium, and will also be hosting the 2016 EXPO Botanique. It remains doubtful, however, whether or not Ronaldinho and Eto’o’s roles at the club will exceed that of a marketing stunt. Eto’o scored two goals in 18 games at Sampdoria Genoa last season, and Ronaldinho’s career was plagued by scandals ever since he left FC Barcelona in 2008. Ronaldinho managed seven goals in 20 matches in Mexico’s Liga MX, where he played for the ambitious club FC Querétaro. Ronaldinho’s time in Mexico, in addition to being marked with the usual scandals, also included his failure to report to Querétaro’s training camp in December. Ronaldinho later issued a statement saying that he had to attend to personal matters in Brazil, although it is more likely that the Brazilian simply chose to extend his vacation on a Brazilian beach. After that incident it was widely expected that Ronaldinho would leave Mexico to either return to play in Brazil, or to move to Major League Soccer in the United States. It now appears that Ronaldinho will become part of yet another ambitious project, this time in Turkey. In some ways the Brazilian has turned into a football circus attraction, a player who can be hired short-term in order to bring allure and glamour to previously unknown clubs. Ronaldinho can’t be blamed for trying to maximize the financial benefits of his career, but for Antalyaspor it remains to be seen if Ronaldinho is able to help the club win the necessary points needed to avoid relegation next season. By Manuel Veth -

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Usually it is the big clubs from Istanbul, Beşiktaş, Galatasaray, and Fenerbahçe, that dominate the headlines during the summer transfer window of the Turkish Süper Lig. This summer, however, the Antalya based club Antalyaspor is stealing the spotlight from Istanbul by signing the Cameroonian star striker Samuel Eto’o, who will earn a reported €3 million a year until 2018.

Now, it also appears that Antalyaspor has been able to sign the former Brazilian national team player Ronaldinho as well. Antalyaspor’s president Gültekin Gencer has since confirmed the transfer: “We reached an agreement with Ronaldinho,” he told the Turkish sport agency TRT Spor. “I think within two days it’ll be made official.”

Despite the fact that both Eto’o, who is 34, and Ronaldinho, who is 35, are both past their prime, both transfers are extraordinary for a club that spent last season in the Turkish TFF First League, and was promoted to the Süper Lig after winning the promotion playoffs.

The club’s president Gencer is the engine driving Antalya’s ambitious football project. Gencer, a native of Antalya, is also the president of the board of managers of the Association of Industrials and Businessmen of Dosemealti municipality in Antalya, and is also owner of the GENPA Shopping Market Group, which was hit with financial difficulties this year.

Despite the monetary troubles of the GENPA Group, Gencer aspires to make Antalyaspor the newest tourist attraction on the Turkish Riviera. Together with Eto’o, Ronaldinho is supposed to bring some star quality to a club that has been a bit of a nonentity in Turkish football. In addition, Antalyaspor is scheduled to move into a new 33,000-seat stadium, and will also be hosting the 2016 EXPO Botanique.

It remains doubtful, however, whether or not Ronaldinho and Eto’o’s roles at the club will exceed that of a marketing stunt. Eto’o scored two goals in 18 games at Sampdoria Genoa last season, and Ronaldinho’s career was plagued by scandals ever since he left FC Barcelona in 2008.

Ronaldinho managed seven goals in 20 matches in Mexico’s Liga MX, where he played for the ambitious club FC Querétaro. Ronaldinho’s time in Mexico, in addition to being marked with the usual scandals, also included his failure to report to Querétaro’s training camp in December. Ronaldinho later issued a statement saying that he had to attend to personal matters in Brazil, although it is more likely that the Brazilian simply chose to extend his vacation on a Brazilian beach.

After that incident it was widely expected that Ronaldinho would leave Mexico to either return to play in Brazil, or to move to Major League Soccer in the United States. It now appears that Ronaldinho will become part of yet another ambitious project, this time in Turkey.

In some ways the Brazilian has turned into a football circus attraction, a player who can be hired short-term in order to bring allure and glamour to previously unknown clubs. Ronaldinho can’t be blamed for trying to maximize the financial benefits of his career, but for Antalyaspor it remains to be seen if Ronaldinho is able to help the club win the necessary points needed to avoid relegation next season.

By Manuel Veth

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