Ronaldinho claims his Barcelona exit was not because Pep Guardiola wanted him sold
What's the story?
Former Barcelona midfielder Ronaldinho has come out and said that his departure from the club was on his own terms and not because new manager Pep Guardiola had decided that his career at the Camp Nou was over. In an interview with TV3, the Brazilian said that he decided he needed a change of scenery.
"I was the one who decided to leave Barcelona in 2008, not Pep Guardiola," Ronaldinho explained.
"I had already achieved my goals there and I needed a change. I always got along well with Pep [Guardiola] and I worked with his brother [Pere] at Nike."
In case you didn't know...
Ronaldinho had spent five years at the Camp Nou where he had helped the club bring back the glory days, capped off by a Champions League triumph in 2006 - their first since 1992.
However, after four prolific seasons where he had even won a Ballon d'Or, Ronaldinho's physical condition started to deteriorate and his partying lifestyle was blamed. Following a relatively underwhelming 2007/08 season, Ronaldinho moved to AC Milan.
The heart of the matter
2008 was the dawn of a new era at Barcelona when Barcelona B coach Pep Guardiola was appointed the new manager. Guardiola had reportedly said in no uncertain terms that the likes of Ronaldinho, Deco, and Samuel Eto'o had to be replaced.
However, Eto'o would stay on for one more season, helping the club win the treble. Ronaldinho moved to Milan where he spent two-and-a-half seasons before returning to Brazil.
Video: The best of Ronaldinho
Injuries and his lifestyle had taken its toll on Ronaldinho in his final years with Barcelona. He was well past his peak between 2005 and 2007 when he had scored 50 goals in two seasons.
His decline conicided with the rise of Lionel Messi and the acquisition of Thierry Henry meant there was no place for Ronaldinho in the starting lieup. It worked out well for Guardiola and Barcelona as they went on to win the treble with a squad that has since been considered one of the greatest in history.