Ronaldinho’s son makes Barcelona youth team debut

Barcelona have handed a debut to the son of Camp Nou legend Ronaldinho.

Joao Mendes, named after Ronaldinho’s late father, was born in 2005 during a relationship with Brazilian dancer Janaina Mendes.

The young talent had previously been at Cruzeiro in Brazil, but arrived in Spain for a Barcelona trial at the start of 2023. At that time, Barça president Joan Laporta was said to be personally overseeing the possibility of offering Joao a contract.

Laporta was of course the president who signed Ronaldinho very soon after taking office for his first term at Camp way back in 2003. Before that, the Brazilian World Cup winner had been close to joining Manchester United and was even courted by Newcastle.

Having played in Juvenil A and B games as a trialist, 18-year-old Joao made the move permanent in March. Now, he has made his debut as an official Barça player for the Juvenil B team at the Mediterranean International Cup tournament on Spain’s Costa Brava.

Ronaldinho spent only five years at Barcelona but they were the best of his career. The club paid around €30m to sign him from Paris Saint-Germain and were rewarded with 94 goals in 207 appearances, two La Liga titles and the Champions League.

Ronaldinho was also twice named FIFA World Player of the Year during his time at Camp Nou, as well as landing the Ballon d’Or in 2005.

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