Tactical Insights

Pep Guardiola sold two Barcelona stars after they ‘turned up to training drunk’, he wanted to protect Lionel Messi


Pep Guardiola sold two Barcelona stars after they 'turned up to training drunk', he wanted to protect Lionel Messi

Pep Guardiola once sold two Barcelona stars after they turned up to training drunk in a bid to protect Lionel Messi, it has been claimed.

Pep Guardiola once sold two Barcelona stars after they turned up to training drunk in a bid to protect Lionel Messi, it has been claimed.

In the mid-to-late Noughties, Messi’s emergence in the Barcelona first team not only became a catalyst for the club’s glittering success on the pitch but also caused the Catalan giants to change the culture of the club off the pitch.

Indeed, former Barcelona star Alexander Hleb once claimed that both Ronaldinho and Deco were two casualties of the club’s change in perspective.

Speaking to Voka TV, Hleb claimed: “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.”

Deco and Ronaldinho had both been stars at Barcelona, with the former appearing 161 times, scoring 20 goals and assisting a further 45 strikes during his time at the club.

Meanwhile, Ronaldinho won the Ballon d’Or, netted 94 goals and claimed 71 assists during an iconic spell at Barca.

Elsewhere, Hleb explained that he had never wanted to join Barcelona, where he went on to make a sporadic 36 appearances across four years.

Deco and Ronaldinho were allegedly sold to "protect" Lionel Messi (Getty)

Deco and Ronaldinho were allegedly sold to “protect” Lionel Messi (Getty)

The Belarusian had his heart set on remaining at Arsenal or joining Bundesliga giant Bayern Munich.

“Frankly, I initially did not want to go to Barcelona at all,” Hleb admitted. “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!'”

Featured Image Credit: Getty

Topics: Barcelona, Lionel Messi, Pep Guardiola, Ronaldinho



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