Ronaldinho and Ronaldo Nazario would be ‘impossible to afford’ in today’s transfer market, says Roberto Hilbert.
Hilbert may never have had the privilege of facing Ronaldo Nazario across his career, but he went toe-to-toe with Ronaldinho during his days at Barcelona twice in 2007/08.
It came in a Champions League group-stage clash between Hilbert’s Stuttgart and Barcelona. The Blaugrana won both ties comfortably, 3-1 and 2-0.
Back then, Ronaldinho was still at the peak of his abilities and a vital member of a Barca squad that comprised Thierry Henry, Andres Iniesta, Xavi Hernandez, and a young Lionel Messi.
And while ‘Dinho’ only scored once in those games against Stuttgart, he was the most impressive player of them all in the eyes of Hilbert.
The former German full-back was so impressed by the Barca icon, he still rates him as possibly the greatest of all-time and his strongest foe.
“The best player I ever faced was Ronaldinho,” Hilbert told Goal.
“For me, he is possibly the best player ever still.
“He was quick, strong, and always happy. [It was] Stuttgart versus Barcelona and it didn’t go so well for us but I say it was an experience! I just tried to hit him but it wasn’t easy to hit him.
“Him and Franck Ribery, who was the best I faced in Germany, they play football for fun and not work. They are happy to be on the pitch and play with the ball at their feet, they love it, feel it in their hearts and they play for fun.
Ronaldinho's First Barcelona Goal pic.twitter.com/tGvEcVjTqv
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“They have that talent that God gives them and no one else has it. They are difference-makers because no one else can do what they do.
“Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Kylian Mbappe and Neymar all do it too. They love it and have fun at the top level.
“They are never insecure or thinking they are not good enough. They think they are the best player in the world when they enter the pitch which is why they are so good.”
Neymar is currently the world’s most expensive player after completing a £200m transfer to Paris Saint-Germain from Barcelona in 2017.
Had a peak Ronaldinho or Ronaldo Nazario been in the mix today, however, Hilbert is convinced the pair would easily outstrip that price tag.
He added: “I think Ronaldinho or Ronaldo would be too expensive to buy in the market the way it has gone.
“If Neymar was £200m ($260m) and with his salary, then I think Ronaldinho and Ronaldo Fenomeno would cost even more to the point that they would be impossible to afford.”