Barcelona sign up legend Ronaldinho’s son and hope greatness runs in the family


Joao Mendes was released by Cruzeiro last year and has landed on his feet with a move to Barcelona, where he will join the academy.

Barcelona have handed Joao Mendes a chance to make it big at Camp Nou, just like his father Ronaldinho ascended to superstar status at the club.

Mendes, 18, signed a deal to join Barcelona’s youth academy on Thursday, with the young forward hoping to make the grade.

Mendes was recruited after a trial period, having previously played at junior level with a number of Brazilian clubs.

In all competitions, Ronaldinho scored 98 goals in 207 games for Barcelona over a five-year period from 2003 to 2008.

He was recruited as close to the finished article as he was already shining for Paris Saint-Germain and Brazil, and took his game to an even higher level by helping Barcelona win two LaLiga titles and the UEFA Champions League.

While Ronaldinho was welcomed by thousands in 2003, his son’s signing was a low-key affair, joined by youth football director Joan Soler Ferre to overlook the completion of the deal.

Ronaldinho, who won the Ballon d’Or in 2005, is now an ambassador for Barcelona.

Youngster Mendes was released by Cruzeiro last year, but in February Barcelona president Joan Laporta welcomed the prospect of him joining the Catalan giants.

“The pressure on the boy is great because Ronaldinho was one of the best in history,” Laporta said at the time. “The son has pressure, but the job of our coaches is to develop his skills.”