Barcelona news: The Blaugrana sold 'drunk' Ronaldinho and Deco to protect Lionel Messi, says former Barca star
What's the story?
In case you didn't know...
Hleb left Arsenal and moved to Barcelona in 2008, but spent most of his time on loan at other clubs. At the time, Deco and Ronaldinho had already established themselves as world-class players at Camp Nou, winning two LaLiga titles and a Champions League title with the club.
Messi, who came through the famed La Masia academy, had a stellar reputation at the club and the higher-ups were determined to nurture the Argentine to the best of their abilities.
When Pep Guardiola took over Barcelona in 2008, he made his decision to let Deco, Ronaldinho and Samuel Eto'o leave clear from the get-go. Deco soon moved to Chelsea before hanging up his boots at Fluminense. Meanwhile, Ronaldinho switched to AC Milan before playing at Flamengo, Atletico Mineiro, Queretaro, and Fluminense in the course of his career.
The heart of the matter
Speaking to V OKA TV (via Sport English), Hleb revealed why Barcelona controversially sold two of is playmakers in 2008. He said, "Ronaldinho and Deco turned up drunk to train. Do you know why Barca sold them in 2008? Because they were afraid they would ruin Messi."
Ironically, former Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny accused Hleb himself of abusing alcohol saying, "He could have achieved more in football, he had a great career ahead of him but he liked to drink."
While the decision to sell Ronaldinho and Deco was surprising at the time, Barcelona look to have made the right decision considering the heights that Messi has reached as a player in the course of his career.
The Argentine recently helped the Blaugrana to a LaLiga title while winning the European Golden Shoe and the Pichichi trophy in the process. He is currently on international duty at the Copa America where Argentina are scheduled to face Venezuela in the quarter-finals on June 28.