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GulfDailyNews - The agent of Brazilian World Cup winner Rivaldo has dismissed reports that the 31-year-old forward has joined Saudi Arabia club Al Ittihad.

The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) reported yesterday that Rivaldo had signed a six-month contract, but his agent Carlos Arini denied reports of a move.

He told the Estado news agency that Rivaldo wanted to stay in Brazil and was likely to sign for either Brazilian champions Cruzeiro or newly-promoted Botafogo in the next few days.

"The soap opera is close to a finish. But Rivaldo will be playing in Brazil at the start of 2004. He's not changing his plans because of more money," Arini said.

According to the AFC's website, Al Ittihad president Mansour Al Balawi announced the signing of Rivaldo, freed from his contract with European champions AC Milan last month, at a news conference on Saturday.

The AFC quoted Al Balawi as saying Rivaldo, who helped Brazil win the World Cup for the fifth time in 2002, would arrive in Saudi Arabia on January 12.

Rivaldo, who has kept his place in the Brazil team despite being surplus to requirements at AC Milan, has been a free agent after a troubled year in Italy.

Arini said that Rivaldo would most likely join Cruzeiro.

"After a number of conversations with the directors of Cruzeiro and Botafogo, he's more likely to play in the (South American) Libertadores Cup for the team coached by Vanderlei Luxemburgo (Cruzeiro)," he said.

"The friendship between the two and the strength of the Brazilian champions are influencing the decision." Rivaldo played under Luxemburgo at Palmeiras in the team which won the Brazilian championship in 1993 and 1994 and in the Brazil team which won the Copa America in 1999.

Cruzeiro have decided not to renew the contract of 36-year-old midfielder Zinho, who played in Brazil's 1994 World Cup team, and this decision is being interpreted as another indication they are close to signing Rivaldo.

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