Brazilian football players often return to Brazil at the end of their careers. They’ve made their fortunes and their reputations and they come back – often to their first clubs – and ease themselves into retirement.
Standards here are lower and they can get away with much more. Top names are given special privileges, such as permission to miss training, something that rarely happens at European clubs. (Although it is starting to happen more as player power grows.)
Just look at Ronaldo, who played only around half of Corinthians games last season because he was so overweight and uninterested.
Now, more and more big stars are coming home at an earlier age – Ronaldinho is just 30 – and some are even coming back in mid-career. Robinho played part of last year at Santos and Adriano took a sabbatical from Italy and turned out for Flamengo. That’s something quite new.
There are two main reasons for the change.
One is that Brazil’s currency is strong enough that stars’ spending power is barely diminished by earning in reais.
The second reason is that Brazil’s sports marketing has come on leaps and bounds and found new ways for sponsors to help clubs pay their top earners. Companies have cash because Brazil’s economy is booming and the middle class is growing fast.