Alexander Hleb, a onetime Arsenal player, has alleged that Barcelona sold Ronaldinho and Deco to protect Lionel Messi, because the pair always turned up for training drunk.

It could be recalled that Ronaldinho and Deco were well established world-class players at Camp Nou, by the time Messi emerged from the Barca youth system in 2004.

However the two star players were sold in 2008 when Pep Guardiola took charge.

Hleb, who is 38 now, joined the Blaugrana from Arsenal the same year Guardiola was appointed as Frank Rijkaard’s successor.

While speaking to VOKA TV, Hleb said, “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,”

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