Barcelona sign Ronaldinho’s 18-year-old son João Mendes after successful trial
Barcelona has announced the signing of 18-year-old João Mendes, who is the son of former club legend Ronaldinho.
Mendes signed a deal on Thursday to join the Catalan giant from Brazilian side Cruzeiro.
The teenager, who had previously hidden his identity as the former Brazil star’s son when he first joined the Belo Horizonte team, came to Barcelona for a trial in in January before signing with the club permanently.
Mendes will join Barcelona’s famous La Masia academy, which has produced some of the club’s greatest talents such Pep Guardiola (now Manchester City manager), Lionel Messi (now playing for Paris Saint-Germain) and current Barça coach Xavi.
Mendes is left-footed forward, who prefers playing as a striker but can operate anywhere across the front line.
The youngster follows in the footsteps of his father who spent five successful years with La Blaugrana, making 207 appearances and scoring 94 goals.
During his time in Catalonia, Ronaldinho won two LaLiga titles, one Champions League trophy as well as a host of individual awards, including the 2005 Ballon d’Or.
Ronaldinho has been in Barcelona with his son, as well as making a recent appearance in former teammate Gerard Piqué’s Kings League.
The tournament, launched in December, is a seven-a-side competition started by Piqué along with other Spanish streamers, celebrities and former soccer players.
Each team was picked by their respective coaches via a draft, as well as having two extra slots for guests like Ronaldinho who join a team for a single match. Other notable stars to play in the league are Sergio Agüero, Javier Saviola, Joan Capdevilla and Iker Casillas.
Among its peculiar rules – which were voted on by fans via social media – are tie-breaking penalty shootouts taken from the middle of field – think MLS in the 90s – unlimited substitutes, sinbins and “wildcards.”
Both teams draw one “wildcard” ahead of kickoff which gives them the ability to win a penalty kick at a moment of choice, kick out an opposing player for two minutes, and a two-minute period where goals scored are doubled. Teams might even be able to steal an opposing team’s wildcard.
Matches are streamed live on Twitch, YouTube and TikTok. Ronaldinho’s appearance drew over two million viewers across different streaming sites, according to Esports Charts.
Ronaldinho turned out for Spanish streamer Ibai Llanos’ team Porcinos FC which had previously seen former Mexico star Javier “Chicharito” Hernández make an appearance.