Fit-again Ronaldo joins Corinthians

RIO DE JANEIRO - Brazilian striker Ronaldo has agreed to join Sao Paulo-based Corinthians after recovering from a serious knee injury suffered last February.

"We've reached a verbal agreement for Ronaldo to play there (Corinthians)," his agent Fabiano Farah told Reuters by telephone on Tuesday.

The 32-year-old will join the club, who are one of Brazil's biggest and have just won promotion back to the top flight after one season in Serie B, for the 2009 season as he attempts to re-ignite his career.

Corinthians confirmed negotiations were at an advanced stage and their club shop immediately began selling Ronaldo replica shirts in both the home and away versions.

"In the next few hours, the two sides should provide the final formalities to close the deal and set a date for the presentation of the athlete," said a statement on the club's website (www.corinthians.com.br).

The shirts, costing around 170 reais ($68) each, had sold out by the end of the afternoon, bringing in around 13,000 reais, the club said.

The announcement stunned Rio de Janeiro club Flamengo, where Ronaldo had been training and believed were top of his list.

"We opened our house for him and he didn't even say thank you," said president Marcio Braga, while a group of angry fans burned and tore up photographs of the player in front of the club headquarters.

It will be the first time Ronaldo has played for a Brazilian club since leaving Cruzeiro at the age of 17 in 1994 to join PSV Eindhoven.

The move comes amid scepticism as to whether Ronaldo, who appeared to have lost his hunger for the game in the last two years, has the motivation to continue playing at the top level.

Even before the injury, he had suffered from fitness and weight problems and has not played for Brazil since his much-criticised performance at the 2006 World Cup.

He had reportedly received offers from Manchester City and Paris St Germain and his decision to return to Brazilian domestic football may be seen as a cushy option.

TRANSVESTITE INCIDENT

Ronaldo ruptured a tendon in his left knee in a Serie A game playing for AC Milan against Livorno in February and later left the Italian club.

In April, he was famously involved in an incident with three transvestites in Rio de Janeiro, having gone to a motel with them believing they were call girls.

In October, Ronaldo said he had put on so much weight following his injury that he was running out of clothes while last month he told Italy's Gazzetta dello Sport rehabilitation had been tough and he was not sure he would continue playing.

Ronaldo reached his peak when he scored eight goals in the 2002 World Cup and helped Brazil win a record fifth title.

He has also played for Barcelona, Inter Milan and Real Madrid in a career which has alternated prolific goal scoring with the frustration and pain of long-term injuries.

Before the 2002 World Cup, he suffered two serious injuries to his right knee which had him out of action for the best part of two years.

He has played at three World Cups, scoring a record total of 15 goals -- four in 1998, eight in 2002 and three in 2006.