Madrid:Barcelona's Brazilian forward Ronaldinho will be sidelined for about six weeks after he pulled a muscle in his right leg during a training session, the Spanish club said on Friday.
The injury means the 28-year-old, who has has been linked to a move away from the Catalan giants, will miss most of the remaining season which has eight rounds left.
"During Thursday's training session the player unfortunately suffered a hamstring strain in his right leg," the club said in a statement.
"A scan carried out confirms that he has a torn muscle which will keep him off the pitch for a period of about six weeks."
The former FIFA World Player of the Year has missed Barcelona's last four Spanish league matches and only returned to training with the rest of his teammates on Wednesday.
Barcelona coach Frank Rijkaard said Ronaldinho had been absent because he had complained of muscle pains in his right leg.
But a report from the Catalan club's medical staff, published on March 17 on Barcelona's website, said scans found he had "neither a tendon nor muscular injury".
Spanish media has reported that Rijkaard has grown tired of the player's frequent late nights out and was not counting on him for the rest of the season.
Ronaldinho, who is under contract with Barcelona until 2010, has had his worst season since he joined the Catalan side from Paris Saint-Germain in 2003.
The Brazilian international has been plagued by injury and fitness problems and has started only 13 of the club's 30 league games so far this season.
Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport published photos on Thursday of his brother and agent Roberto Assis at a Milan restaurant with AC Milan vice-president Adriano Galliani which fuelled speculation that the player will join the Italian club.
English Premiership sidea Chelsea and Manchester United have also been touted as a possible destination for the player at the end of the season.
Barcelona president Joan Laporta has denied there is a "divorce" between the club and the player, who helped the Catalan side win the Champions League in 2006 and the Spanish league title in 2005 and 2006.
The buy-out clause attached to Ronaldinho's contract is 125 million euros (194 million dollars).
But his agent is reportedly prepared to invoke a FIFA transfer clause that allows a player to end his contract after three years at a club tat would allow him to leave for a fraction of this cost.
Barcelona lie in third place in the Spanish league with 58 points, seven behind defending champions and leaders Real Madrid.
Without Ronaldinho, Barcelona on Tuesday defeated Schalke 1-0 in the first leg of the Champions League quarterfinals. The final of the European football's showpiece tournament is scheduled for May 21.