- Ronaldinho and Deco were offloaded by Barcelona in 2008 to protect Lionel Messi from their influence says Alexander Hleb
- The former Barca midfielder revealed Ronaldinho and Deco always came to training drunk
- Hleb, who joined Barcelona from Arsenal also took out time to speak about his stay at Camp Nou
La Liga giants Barcelona offloaded the pair of Ronaldinho and compatriot Deco in 2008 to protect rising star Lionel Messi claims Alexander Hleb
According to a BR report citing Voka TV (h/t Goal), the former Barcelona midfielder revealed that the Catalans were eager to stop the duo from influencing the youngster, with the pair turning drunk during training sessions.
“The Blaugrana were afraid the two would "bring down" Messi: "Ronaldinho and Deco came to training drunk. That's why Ronaldinho and Deco were sold in 2008. Because they were afraid that they would bring down Lionel Messi,”Hleb noted, even as he took out time to speak about his stay at Camp Nou, stressing he never wanted to make the switch in the first place:
"Frankly, I initially did not want to go to Barcelona at all. I wanted to go to Bayern Munich or stay at Arsenal. But the agents were telling me to go as it was Guardiola who was calling.
"When I moved to Barca, I lived with Thierry Henry for a while. He said to me: 'Stay until you find something. What is in the hotel? It's boring'. And so I spent a month with him.
"He always said to me: 'Why did you go to Barca?! Well, call me, I would explain everything!'"
The 38-year-old, who moved to Camp Nou in 2008 after a fantastic career at Arsenal enjoyed more loan spells at other club during his four-year deal and had his contract, was terminated by mutual consent in 2012.
On the other hand, Deco and Ronaldinho went on to win two La Liga titles and Champions League during 2005-06 campaign, but were sent packing by the Catalan side in 2008 as established superstars.
Deco headed to Chelsea before finishing his career at Fluminese, while Ronaldinho joined AC Milan and later had stints at Flamengo, Atletico Mineiro, Queretaro and Fluminese.
Interestingly, as soon as Pep Guardiola was named Barca's first team manager at the end of the 2007-08 campaign, he informed journalists that Deco, Ronaldinho and Samuel Eto'o were not in his plans going forward.
But somehow, the Cameroonian stayed back for another season, netting the opening goal in the Champions League final win over Man United.
Twenty-four months down the road, Ronaldinho penned an open letter to everyone connected to Barcelona, professing his love for the Blaugrana outfit.
"As you all know, I don't normally talk in public a lot and I'm not one for big farewells, but I would like to take advantage of this occasion to thank you all for everything we shared together during the five years I defended the Barca shirt. They were certainly the best years of my life, both professionally and personally. I honestly think we enjoyed so much whilst we were together," he submitted.
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Already, Messi was regarded as a huge talent at the club's academy even before making his senior debut at 16, with Barcelona chiefs keen on protecting and nurturing him the best way ever.
At the last count, Messi has won La Liga title 10 times, alongside four UEFA Champions League winners medal.
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