Star’s pros and cons

Brazilian superstar Rivaldo has helped to put money in Olympiakos’s coffers since his arrival last summer. The team has sold out all its home matches so far this season and the 16 team shops around the country have sold thousands of team jerseys with his name on them. But there is also a dark side to the Rivaldo story. There are some team officials and many fans who believe the 2002 World Cup winner has not done enough on the pitch and his negative attitude toward coach Dusan Bajevic is not appreciated. Rivaldo walked out on the team late in January after Bajevic substituted him in a Greek league match. He missed one practice session, citing personal reasons. The Olympiakos board downplayed the incident and reported its full confidence in Bajevic and his decisions. The Brazilian attacking midfielder later himself downplayed the incident, saying it was blown out of proportion by the local media, although he told one interviewer that come this summer, he may leave. «Olympiakos comes above all. The team is above me, above Rivaldo, above each one of us. If I can’t make the changes that I want to make, then I cannot be the coach for Olympiakos,» said Bajevic in an interview with Athens sports daily newspaper Protathlitis. The row between Rivaldo and Bajevic surfaced last November when the Brazilian ace was first substituted by his coach; Rivaldo then complained, saying indirectly that the team was not playing well due to mistakes in tactics. Rivaldo has completed only a quarter of his two-year contract which reportedly brings him an annual salary of 1.8 million euros. The Athens daily Ethnos said last Sunday that an Olympiakos top official told one of their journalists the team would not be too concerned about letting Rivaldo go. «It is a very large contract, two years long, with a lot of money and no president of a club would pay that kind of money to a player who does not provide the appropriate services,» wrote the newspaper. Rivaldo has scored seven league goals so far, placing him among the top 10 scorers in the championship, but has not shown the form that led him to be voted World Player of the Year in 1999. There were even reports within Olympiakos that Rivaldo’s teammates also have been annoyed by him. «At times, just the names are not enough, something that is also evident in Real Madrid. Olympiakos has a lot more potential,» team captain Predrag Djordjevic said in an interview with the club’s official magazine, referring to Rivaldo’s arrival. But not all teammates have negative feelings for Rivaldo. «This is the Rivaldo we want, the dynamic professional,» said Olympiakos defender Grigoris Georgatos who had praise for the Brazilian’s play in Greek Cup competition where Olympiakos has advanced to the final eight. When Rivaldo arrived last summer, he said two of the reasons he had chosen to play for Olympiakos were his personal friendship with compatriot striker Giovanni and that Olympiakos would be playing in the Champions League. But even Giovanni has expressed his desire to quit the team after this season and Olympiakos did not make it through the initial round of the Champions League, thus leaving 32-year-old Rivaldo with fewer incentives.

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