Barcelona sign Ronaldinho’s 18-year-old son João Mendes after successful trial



Barcelona have announced the signing of 18-year-old João Mendes, the son of former club legend Ronaldinho.

Mendes signed a deal on Thursday to join the Catalan giant from Brazil’s Cruzeiro.

The teen, who had before concealed his identity son of the former Brazilian star when he first joined the Belo Horizonte team, came to Barcelona in January for a trial before signing permanently with the club.

Mendes will join Barcelona’s famed La Masia academy, which has produced some of the club’s brightest talents such as Pep Guardiola (now Manchester City manager), Lionel Messi (now playing for Paris Saint-Germain) and current Barça coach Xavi.

Mendes is a left-footed attacker, who prefers to play as a striker, but can operate anywhere on the front line.

The youngster follows in the footsteps of his father, who spent five successful years at La Blaugrana, making 207 appearances and scoring 94 times.

During his time in Catalonia, Ronaldinho won two LaLiga titles, one Champions League trophy and numerous individual awards, including the Ballon d’Or in 2005.

Ronaldinho has been to Barcelona with his son and also recently made an appearance in former teammate Gerard Piqué’s Kings League.

Launched in December, the tournament is a seven-a-side competition started by Piqué alongside other Spanish streamers, celebrities and former footballers.

Each team was chosen by their respective coaches through a draft, and also had two extra slots for guests like Ronaldinho to join a team for a single match. Other notable stars playing in the league include Sergio Agüero, Javier Saviola, Joan Capdevilla and Iker Casillas.

Among the quirky rules – voted on by fans via social media – are tie-breaking penalty shootouts taken from the middle of the field – think MLS in the 90s – unlimited substitutes, sinbins and wildcards.

Both teams draw one “wild card” prior to kick-off, which gives them the opportunity to win a penalty kick at a time of their choosing, kick out an opponent for two minutes, and a two-minute period where goals scored are doubled. Teams can even steal another team’s wild card.

Matches will be streamed live on Twitch, YouTube and TikTok. Ronaldinho’s performance attracted more than two million viewers on various streaming sites, according to Esports charts.

Ronaldinho played for Spanish streamer Ibai Llanos’ team Porcinos FC, which had previously seen former Mexico star Javier “Chicharito” Hernández appear.

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