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Brazilian club releases Adriano after 4 matches

- Associated Press - Friday, April 11, 2014

SAO PAULO (AP) - Atletico Paranaense has released former Brazil striker Adriano after just four games, dealing a blow to the striker's ambitious hopes of returning to top form and playing in the World Cup this year.

The 32-year-old former Internazionale forward had returned from two years out of the game due to injury and off-field issues and signed a productivity contract with Atletico which allowed the club to release him at any moment if he failed to fulfill his professional duties.

Atletico Paranaense released a statement Friday saying Adriano was released after only four matches "in mutual agreement with the player" following a meeting in the southern city of Curitiba. It didn't specify why the player was leaving, but local media said the departure was prompted by the striker's absence from two practice sessions this week.

There were also reports that club directors were upset after Adriano was videotaped at a popular concert in a nightclub the night before he missed training.

Atletico said the meeting with Adriano had already been scheduled after the team's elimination in the group stage of the Copa Libertadores on Tuesday, when the striker scored his only goal for the club.

Adriano wrote on Twitter late Friday that "his goal was achieved" with Atletico Paranaense. He wanted to return to football and that happened, he said.

"My time with the club was very gratifying," he said. "Now I can keep doing what I like doing the most, which is to play football."

Before being released, Adriano had said he was still hopeful of playing for Brazil in this year's World Cup. He was a starter for the five-time champions in the 2006 World Cup in Germany.

Just two matches into his return, however, Adriano attracted headlines for the wrong reasons after showing his disappointment for being asked to enter a match with the team losing 2-0 and only a few minutes left.

He was released by Corinthians in 2012 for allegedly not committing to a recovery program after Achilles tendon surgery. He signed for Flamengo later that year, but left without playing a single match after repeated absences from training and team activities.

Adriano won four Serie A titles with Inter Milan early in his career, and with Brazil he won the 2004 Copa America and the 2005 Confederations Cup. He missed out on the 2010 squad in South Africa despite leading Flamengo to the Brazilian title a year earlier.

Atletico Paranaense in its statement that it "wished Adriano luck in his new projects."

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Tales Azzoni on Twitter: http://twitter.com/tazzoni

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