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SA Editorial: Rivaldo- Should He Stay Or Should He Go?
2.10 || Seamus

SA Editorial: 10/01/2003.

Adriano Galliani's pressure finally paid off, as Rivaldo decided to stay with Milan, at least till December. The Brazilian has been unhappy for most of his Milan stay but he only started being vocal about it in the past few weeks.

It's no secret that he wants first team football and obviously in the next few months his situation will not change much. He stated that the love of the fans made him change his mind, but objectively he only stayed so he could keep fit till the transfer market re-opens, otherwise he would have had to train by himself and even lose his national team spot.

His star has been fading in recent years and that's one of the reasons why Barcelona let him off on a free transfer. Milan hoped that a change of air will bring back the best out of Rivaldo, and in the summer of 2002 they offered him a lucrative contract. After a good start the player slowly fell back in the hierarchy of Carlo Ancelotti's troops and the bench became his best friend.

The statistics speak for themselves; Rivaldo managed only 5 goals from 22 league appearances, for a total of 38 matches played (including Champions League and Coppa Italia games) and just 8 goals scored. That's too little from a world champion and especially for what he's netting yearly.

Last Sunday was supposed to be his swan song at San Siro, as he walked around the pitch before the match, applauding the crowd and receiving loud cheers in return. Ironically Rivaldo announced he was leaving Milan when Ancelotti had announced that he would be in the starting line-up for the Lecce match. Because of this, he lost his chance of actually playing his first match!

This whole situation brings many questions with it which maybe in the end only Rivaldo, Ancelotti and those who are close to the team know the real answers.

Why does a player like Rivaldo, who's a first team regular for the world champions, find it so difficult to break into Milan's first team? Obviously the nearly 32 year old forward is not getting any younger and he is not physically the same as he was some years ago. He's also closed down in each role by unmovable starters such as Shevchenko and Rui Costa, and to make matters worse, the purchase of young wonder player Kaka has not helped him; on the contrary he's moved further back in the pecking order.

Who would gain more if Rivaldo does decide to leave Milan in January? The player would on one hand find a team that can offer him playing time, even though few clubs can really equal what Milan are paying him. He obviously is leaving Milan to get first team action, so money should be no object for him when choosing his next team. The Brazilian does not want to join a mid-table team either, because he feels he has 3 more years to offer at top level football, so he will go for a Spanish or English club who will be competing in the Champions League. The problem is if there really is a team willing to invest in a 'mature' player who seems to have lost it and cannot play in European football this season, since he played a few minutes in the European Super Cup against Porto last August.

For Milan, losing Rivaldo would not be a tragedy as he has hardly been influential in helping them win the Champions League last season, let alone in this season when he has not yet featured in any league or Champions League match. Actually it might be removing a burden for them, considering his high salary, with which they can actually purchase another player.

The fans will not be spending sleepless nights either, as they seem to have elected Kaka as their new Brazilian idol, a player who has immense potential and class. Obviously Rivaldo does not enjoy being overshadowed by his younger fellow countryman, but is not given too much chance to shine.

Few teams really have space and money to accommodate Rivaldo, and he would probably end in the same situation, if not worse, at any club he might join. So in the end Rivaldo should think twice before deciding to leave, as probably his best solution would be to stay with a team that can assure him trophies and money. ET, as he's affectionately nicknamed, might be better off with Milan, but the rossoneri may actually be better off without him and his wages, as his loss will probably pass unnoticed….except maybe for his best friend, the warm bench at San Siro.

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