MADRID, May 26 (Reuters) - "Brazil" is the word on everyone's lips at Barcelona
after a stellar first season by playmaker Ronaldinho ushered out a long period
of Dutch domination of the Catalan side.
Ronaldinho, who joined the club from Paris St Germain last July, notched up 15
goals this season and inspired Barcelona to a 17-game unbeaten run which lifted
them to a second-place finish in Spain's Primera Liga.
His visionary passing and strong finishing have brought life to a Barcelona side
that has not lifted a trophy in five years.
by the Brazilians," read one headline in a Catalan newspaper after the Nou Camp
hosted a friendly on Tuesday between Catalonia and a Brazil side including
Only hours before Barcelona's stadium erupted into samba rhythms, the club said
it had signed Brazil defender Juliano Belletti, a member of the 2002 World Cup
winning squad, and also said they wanted to buy striker Luis Fabiano from Sao
Meanwhile, Barca unceremoniously dumped a raft of Dutch internationals.
The club has not renewed the contracts of Michael Reiziger and captain Philip
Cocu and said striker Patrick Kluivert and winger Marc Overmars -- who each have
a year to run on their contracts -- were free to move on.
Some of these signings date back to the stewardship of Dutch coach Louis Van
Gaal between 1997 and 2000, when Barca claimed two successive league titles and
a King's Cup to secure their position as the most successful Spanish side of the
Barca's legendary "Dream Team" -- which won four consecutive league titles
between 1991 and 1994 -- was coached by Dutch master Johan Cruyff. The crowning
moment in the club's history came courtesy of another Dutchman, defender Ronald
Koeman, whose free kick clinched the 1992 European Cup at Wembley.
Barcelona, whose motto "more than a club" celebrates their special place as a
symbol of Catalan independence from Spain, have not completely severed their
fruitful Dutch connection.
Frank Rijkaard remains the latest in a long line of Dutch coaches, maintaining
Barcelona's close ties with Ajax Amsterdam which has acted almost as a feeder
The Catalan side also confirmed on Tuesday that Dutch defender Giovanni van
Bronckhorst, signed on loan from Arsenal last year, would be staying at the club.
Barcelona are also keen to lock combative midfielder Edgar Davids into a
permanent deal, although big-spending sides are in the chase for the Juventus
player, whose mid-season arrival at the Nou Camp coincided with Barca's return
Club president Joan Laporta's shopping list also features German international
Michael Ballack and France striker David Trezeguet.