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Ronaldinho Says Lionel Messi 'Didn't Need Anything from Me' at Barcelona

Christopher Simpson@@CJSimpsonBRFeatured ColumnistJanuary 17, 2020

Barcelona's Argentinian Messi (L) is congratulated by his teammate Brazilian Ronaldinho (R) after scoring during the Liga football match Barcelona vs Athletico Madrid at the New Camp in Barcelona , 07 october 2007.  AFP PHOTO / PHILIPPE DESMAZES (Photo credit should read PHILIPPE DESMAZES/AFP via Getty Images)
PHILIPPE DESMAZES/Getty Images

Ronaldinho has opened up on his friendship with Lionel Messi during their time together at Barcelona.

The Brazilian spent five years at the Camp Nou between 2003 and 2008. 

Ronaldinho told Panenka magazine (h/t Marca) that upon his arrival at the club from Paris Saint-Germain, "there was already talk of a kid who stood out."

That player was Messi, who was making his way through the ranks at Barca's academy, La Masia.

The 2005 Ballon d'Or winner said the pair quickly became friends and "got on very well." After he and Barca's other players spoke to then-manager Frank Rijkaard about the Argentinian, Messi was soon promoted to training with the first team.

Messi made his debut for Barcelona in October 2004, shortly before Ronaldinho did this in the UEFA Champions League against AC Milan, with Messi watching on from the bench:

UEFA Champions League @ChampionsLeague

📅 #OnThisDay in 2004... ⚽ Ronaldinho unleashes an unstoppable shot! 🔵 @10Ronaldinho 🔴  #UCL #FlashbackFriday https://t.co/5DeAVO3aoX

Ronaldinho's usual position on the left wing meant Messi was moved to the right flank, which has become the defining position of his career.

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The youngster bagged his first goal for the club the following May, which Ronaldinho said he was "lucky enough" to have assisted:

FC Barcelona @FCBarcelona

🔙 #OnThisDay in 2005 ⚽ Messi scored his first official goal 14 years later he needs 2 goals to reach No.6⃣0⃣0⃣ with Barça 🤔 Will he succeed today? https://t.co/LfSLztOJhA

"Over time, it's very nice to see someone who starts out so close [to you] and then conquers the world," he added.

The pair were close on and off the pitch:

Goal @goal

Messi + Ronaldinho = 😍😍 https://t.co/7pV8gBR2d7

"I'd be left amazed by how calm he is," Ronaldinho added. "That's something I love about him; he never gets into trouble. He's always with his family and those closest to him. Leo has everything. He didn't need anything from me."

During the Brazilian's time at the club, Barca won two La Liga titles, the UEFA Champions League and two Spanish Super Cups.

He moved to Milan in 2008, shortly after Pep Guardiola took over as manager, and Messi became the focal point of the team following his departure.

Messi was among many who paid tribute to Ronaldinho when he retired from the game in 2018:

B/R Football @brfootball

On this day in 2018, Ronaldinho retired from football 🇧🇷 🤙 Joga Bonito forever 🤙 https://t.co/VP6qZc2RIK

The 32-year-old has 10 La Liga titles to his name, four UEFA Champions Leagues and six Copas del Rey, among other honours.

In 707 games for the Catalan club, he boasts an astonishing record of 619 goals and 253 assists.

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