Former Brazil forward Ronaldinho’s son has signed a permanent contract with Barcelona’s under-19 team, the Catalan club have announced.
ESPN reported in January that Joao Mendes de Assis Moreira, 18, was training with Barca’s Juvenil A side pending a decision on whether to hand him a deal.
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Following a successful trial, Barca have now taken up an option to extend Mendes’ stay. He signed a contract on Thursday alongside academy director Jose Ramon Alexanco.
Sources have told ESPN that Mendes’ contract will run until summer next year, when the forward would exit the U19 age bracket. Sources added the club will assess whether to offer an extended deal after his initial contract expires.
The teenager had been playing for Cruzeiro since he was 14 but rescinded his contract with the Brazilian side at the end of last year.
He is a left-footed forward who can play across the front line, with his career being overseen by his uncle, Roberto de Assis Moreira, who also played an active role in Ronaldinho’s playing career.
Mendes’ move to Barcelona will allow Ronaldinho to spend more time back in the city where he spent five years as a player, from 2003-08.
Ronaldinho, 42, has already been in Barcelona while his son has been on trial at Camp Nou and he turned out in Gerard Pique’s Kings League last weekend.
The 2002 World Cup winner played for Spanish streamer Ibai Llanos’ team in the seven-a-side competition, but could not stop them falling to a penalty shootout defeat.
During his time as a Barca player, Ronaldinho scored 94 goals in 207 appearances for the club, helping them win the Champions League in 2006 and two LaLiga titles.
Paris Saint-Germain and AC Milan are among his other former sides in Europe, while he played for Gremio, Flamengo, Atletico Mineiro and Fluminense in Brazil and for Queretaro in Mexico. He retired as a player in 2015.