Lionel Messi was reunited with his former Barcelona teammate and close friend Ronaldinho before Paris Saint-Germain’sChampions League match on Tuesday evening.
Ronaldinho was among the VIPs in attendance at the Parc des Princes ahead of PSG’s crunch group match against RB Leipzig.
The former playmaker sharply rose to fame in European football for his glittering performances for the French club, prior to a move to the Camp Nou in 2003.
Ronaldinho played 207 times for Barca over a five-season period in which he scored an impressive 94 goals and helping them to the titles in La Liga in 2005 and 2006.
The Brazilian became renowned as one of the greatest ever players to wear the Blaugrana shirt, being crowned Ballon d’Or winner in 2005 before propelling Barca to the Champions League crown the following year.
This was the time when Messi was breaking through into the first-team ranks at the Catalan giants, having made his Barca debut in October 2004 and rapidly becoming an outstanding talent at the club.
Ronaldinho acted almost like a big brother to a teenage Messi at this time, although this coincided with the Brazilian gaining a reputation for his enjoyment of partying in the city.
During this time, Messi was often seen to be accompanying Ronaldinho and Deco – the Brazil-born Portuguese playmaker – on nights out around the Catalan capital.
When Pep Guardiola was appointed as Barca boss in 2008, among his first acts were to sell both Deco and Ronaldinho – the latter of whom joined Italian giants Milan.
This was seen as a move to protect Messi, along with other younger players at the Blaugrana, to bring a more focused and professional dressing room.
Alexander Hleb, who joined Barca in 2008, later told V OKA TV, as per Goal : “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.”
Roberto de Assis, the brother and agent of Ronaldinho, later gave an interview to UOL Esporte to deny this version of events, and claimed that his brother’s sale was ‘political’ due to the presidential elections at Barca.
He said: “Guardiola phoned us to speak. He wanted my brother to stay, but he wanted to leave.
“I don’t think he needed to leave Barcelona and he could have stayed. But we had to go through a stormy presidential election and he preferred to leave.